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YMCA celebrates successes with major changes on the horizon

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Friends and passionate supporters of the YMCA gathered tonight to celebrate some major accomplishments of the last year as the organization looks toward a busy timeline in the coming years.

On Monday, the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka hosted its annual celebration, replacing the previous annual general meeting, which can no longer be held due to changes in policy concerning not-for-profits.

"We bring our community together, our staff, our board, our partners to celebrate all of the work that we're doing at the Y," said President & CEO Jill Tettman.

Monday's gathering brought together many of the YMCA's supporters and core partners, including Georgian College. Among 2023 highlights that included raising over $1 million and providing financial assistance to nearly 700 youth to attend camp, Tettman says an expanded partnership with Georgian College focused on 'belonging' may be what she's most proud of.

"Belonging is a really important focus for us at the YMCA," Tettman told CTV News. We talk about inclusion, equity, and belonging, and we're working with Georgian College on a project to explore the future of belonging in our communities and what that looks like from a social and innovation perspective."

As it celebrates recent successes, the organization looks ahead to a pivotal few years as staff work on bringing a new facility to the City of Barrie.

Announced late last year, Tettman says plans for Barrie's new YMCA location will be complete by 2027.

"We have submitted our site plan application to the city, and we are working with our architects and are finalizing our design, and we are working with our donors and our very incredible supporters and sponsors of this new center of community in Barrie."

In November 2023, officials signed a 50-year lease agreement with the City of Barrie to build a new facility at 535 Bayview Drive, directly adjacent to the city-owned Sadlon Arena.

The brand-new facility will be located on the northeast corner of the property. It comes more than three years after the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka decided to close three fitness facilities, including the one in Barrie, due to financial pressures.

In addition to the core health and fitness components, it will include an intergenerational hub offering programs for youth and seniors and new childcare spaces.

Tettman says construction is expected to begin in early 2025.

"The Y prides itself in ensuring all of our programs, no matter what we offer, whether it's child care or health and fitness or camp that people find a space where they belong."

  

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