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YMCA touts benefits of larger rec centres as part of city budget talks

Posted: 12/12/2013 1:01 PM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 12/12/2013 1:26 PM | Updates

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Officials from YM-YWCA Winnipeg came to city hall this morning to defend their proposal for funding for three super recreational facilities.

"The proposed facilities we’re talking about will be state-of-the art (recreational) facilities unlike Winnipeg has seen to date," Kent Patterson, president and CEO of Y Winnipeg, told members of executive policy committee.

The proposed 2014 budget includes a $1.75-million grant to the Y, a down payment on a $46.7-million contribution to the construction of the three facilities over the next 10 years.

"We think this is the way of the future," Patterson told reporters. "This is a great relationship that allows the Y to do more than we could if we were on our own and allows the City to do more."

Patterson said the Y has similar partnerships with 20 municipalities across the country, including Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Markham, London, Niagara Falls and Montreal.

The Y just opened an $18-million, 50,000-square-foot facility in Brandon, he said, adding that the city contributed $4 million for the construction cost.

The partnership concept was announced Nov. 29, when the budget was released by Mayor Sam Katz.

The three facilities – to be built in the southwest, northeast and northwest quadrants – have a total estimated construction cost of $140 million.

Katz said the city would contribute one-third of the construction costs of the new facilities, with equal contributions from the Y and the provincial government.

However, the provincial government has not yet agreed to participate.

Katz had promoted the facilities as a recreational campus, where some civic facilities might also be located, including possibly libraries.

Katz said the benefit to the city would be that it would get new facilities without having to pick up the cost of running them or maintaining them.

That has alarmed some members of council and CUPE – the union which represents most civic workers – who fear the city is beginning to divest itself of recreational facilities.

Several community groups came to city hall today to plead with EPC for funding or to comment on the budget proposals.

Patterson said the Y doesn’t see itself replacing or competing with civic facilities, adding he couldn’t comment on why the Y should get the $1.75 million rather than other groups.

Patterson said the $1.75 million would cover the design and preliminary planning costs associated with the projects, adding that the money would not be spent unless the province also agreed to participate equally.

"We’re thrilled with our proposal," Patterson said. "These facilities will be cornerstones, building a strong health foundation that will benefit generations of Winnipeggers in decades to come want to work together with government so we can find solutions."

Patterson said Winnipeg needs more recreational facilities and areas proposed are underserved by the Y now.

The new facilities would include all the same amenities that exist in the Y’s current locations: fitness centre and pool. But the aquatics would exceed any of its existing facilities: multiple tanks, lazy rivers, paddling pools, water slides, and hot tubs.

The new facilities would have preschool child care and before and after school child care.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 1:26 PM CST: adds sidebar

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