Westwood YMCA Closing Doors After 34 Years In Community

After 34 years in the community, the Westwood YMCA is closing its doors.

President and CEO Nick Parkinson announced on Wednesday the permanent closure of the facility.

He cited increased competition, labour and maintenance costs, decreased membership since 2014, and ultimately the COVID-19 pandemic as the reasons for the closure.

“The health and fitness challenges we are experiencing in Fort McMurray at the Westwood Y are not alone,” said Parkinson.

“We are a national movement with Ys across the country. Many of the Ys are challenged with the health, fitness, and recreation program and service delivery. With the prior challenges in the Westwood operation now overlaid with the pandemic and the consumer not returning to a magnitude has also contributed to our decision today.”

The staff of the Westwood YMCA, 18 full-time and 80 part-time employees, were told Wednesday morning before the public announcement.

“This announcement is no doubt extremely difficult for the dedicated and hardworking employees and the members at the Westwood Family Y. I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation for their dedication, tireless commitment and for truly making the centre a community,” added Parkinson.

“We are working with them to find alternative roles within the YMCA where possible and to support them in the next steps of their job path.”

The centre had 3,200 members currently enrolled. The organization will continue to operate its seven childcare centres in the region.

The Fort McMurray Public School district owns the building the YMCA is located in, and they will work together to end their lease agreement and clear out of the building.

MacDonald Island Park has agreed to allow any YMCA members to present their membership card and receive a free month at the facility.

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