A year into the pandemic, it’s time to take stock: at the organizational level and in terms of our impact on society.
Our first observation: the pandemic has clearly demonstrated the relevance of our impact. We have been able to pursue our work with youth, families, and vulnerable individuals. This was namely achieved by providing 25,000 hours of academic support, serving over 100,000 meals with the help of our numerous partners, and offering free virtual fitness courses, which have been viewed over 63,000 times. Additionally, we conducted over 10,000 interventions with people experiencing homelessness and provided ongoing support to 800 vulnerable seniors. Despite the lockdown, the closure of our sports facilities, and the public health restrictions, our mission was never interrupted: our centres have continued to offer youth programs, academic support, help to families and vulnerable people, both in person and virtually, and according to public health measures in place.
Our second observation: the pandemic, by putting our indoor fitness activities on hold for the bigger part of the last year, has deprived us of the majority of our revenues. This proves to us that our goal—to secure partners who will contribute to the costs of maintaining our infrastructures—is relevant. Some of our buildings are old and costly to maintain and these expenses are thus impeding the growth of our social impact. Partnerships would ensure we can remain present and pursue our mission: to inspire all people to fulfill their potential, thrive, and contribute to their community.
With these two key observations in hand, an important question remains. Once Public Health authorizes the resumption of in-person fitness activities, and while we work to secure partnerships, how can we reopen our sports facilities, when their situation is already precarious, without putting our many community and social impact programs at risk? At this moment, a gradual reopening plan is clearly the most responsible approach.
We will thus relaunch our fitness activities differently from one centre to the next, and according to the specific reality of each centre:
In Montréal, in accordance with the latest public health guidelines, the Cartierville and Du Parc YMCAs will relaunch an indoor fitness program on March 26, and the Westmount YMCA will do the same on April 5, while the other centres, for now, focus on outdoor and online activities, camps, and our many community programs.
At the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce YMCA, indoor fitness activities will resume in September after the summer day camps and the renovation work ends.
As for the Downtown YMCA, we are faced with a particular situation as its community is mainly made up of people who work in the area. As most businesses, both big and small, have their employees working remotely during the pandemic, the demand for fitness activities in the neighbourhood has been significantly reduced. It is for this reason that we need to secure partnerships before we can resume our indoor fitness activities. Until then, we will continue to offer virtual language courses, daycare services, and community programs that support vulnerable individuals. We obviously want to participate in revitalizing the downtown core, and hope to maintain, with the help of a partner, a strong, visible presence in the area.
At the West Island YMCA, indoor fitness activities will not resume until we have secured a partnership. However, a full range of community programs remains available to support youth, families, and vulnerable individuals. Additionally, outdoor fitness activities will be organized as soon as the weather warms up to keep our community healthy and active.
In Pointe-Saint-Charles, our working group is pursuing its mandate and working on the redevelopment project, which, we hope will include a fitness component. We will, of course, also need partners for this upcoming project and we are already in discussions on this issue.
Last, as Québec City is now in an orange zone, the Saint-Roch YMCA was able to announce the resumption of individual fitness activities as of March 15. A summer camp is also planned in collaboration with the City of Québec, as well as youth programs, a community kitchen, support to people experiencing homelessness, and initiatives to help teens stay and succeed in school.
We realize that, in the short term, these decisions may disappoint several of our members and participants in our fitness activities. However, this is the best option to ensure we continue to have a positive impact on youth, families, and vulnerable people, as we have been doing since the beginning of the pandemic. Our goal is clear: emerge from the pandemic with partners that share our vision and values, and continue supporting communities through our many programs, as we have done for 170 years.