1. Is the Downtown YMCA open?
The community programs and the YMCA International Language School are open at the Downtown YMCA. While the large sports facilities have been closed since March 2020, the gymnasium is a favourite spot for the youth who participate in our community programs and is also often rented out to local schools. Furthermore, the Downtown YMCA offers soccer and basketball courses for neighbourhood youth.
2. Has the Downtown YMCA been sold or is it for sale?
We are currently redefining our presence in downtown Montréal. To do so, we have launched a call for tenders to find a real estate broker who will be able to guide us in the sale of the building and help us find other premises where we can offer our programs.
3. Why is the Downtown YMCA building for sale?
Changes in people’s lifestyle habits—particularly telecommuting, which has impacted the number of people coming into downtown Montréal—and consequently, the substantial drop in independent revenues generated by gym memberships is an important factor to consider in the YMCAs of Québec’s financial model. This decrease in membership revenues has created a funding gap for our mission, which is something not supported by most of our funders.
Selling the building, which is located on Stanley and Drummond Streets, will allow us to invest the revenue from the sale in a fund that will generate income to support our mission. And, as such, we will be able to keep serving the needs of the community.
4. Why is the YMCAs of Québec undergoing a transformation?
The Y is reinventing itself, modernizing, and ensuring that a viable financial strategy is in place so it can continue to encourage and inspire all people to fulfill their potential, thrive, and give back to the community for decades to come.
This transformation includes the implementation of numerous projects, which were presented at the March 2023 annual general meeting and in the 2022 impact report. Specifically, the focus is on implementing a sustainable financial strategy, redefining the YMCAs of Québec’s presence in Greater Montréal, and updating the services offered so that they better meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
5. Will you continue offering programs in the Peter-McGill district?
Yes, this is our intent. The revenue from the sale of the building will enable us to reinvest in the Y’s mission and ensure we can offer our programs for the long term.
6. Why would fitness activities at the Downtown YMCA not resume until the building is sold, the way they did in other YMCA centres?
The situation for many organizations and companies in downtown Montréal has changed and the YMCA is no exception. We share many of the same challenges with other organizations in the area, and this has forced us to think about the future of the YMCA and how it needs to transform. These challenges are specifically linked to the drop in the number of people working and visiting downtown and the changes in work habits and in fitness habits.
As the Downtown YMCA is the largest centre and has the highest maintenance costs, it is no longer feasible for the YMCA to cover the cost of our large fitness facilities without a long-term partnership. Without a partnership, we cannot operate these large fitness facilities, pool included. We would, however, like to offer fitness activities, but they will need to be offered in a different format.
We do encourage you to consult the programming in our other service points in Montréal:
7. Why sell the Downtown YMCA now?
We are carrying out the actions of our 2020–2025 strategic plan so we can continue to encourage and inspire all people to fulfill their potential, thrive, and contribute to the community for decades to come.
In 2021, we launched a first call for partners and consulted with dozens of stakeholders and groups since then. No partnership large enough to allow sports and fitness activities to start up again in a viable manner has been formed to date. We must act so that we can pursue our mission in the long term.
The Downtown YMCA’s annual deficit is about $1 million. The building represents 140,000 sq. ft. to maintain and only about one third of this area is currently being used for our programming, excluding the large fitness facilities. Redefining our physical footprint will allow us to eliminate this deficit while finding premises better adapted to our future community and fitness program offering.
8. Can members fundraise or can you increase membership prices so fitness activities can resume at the Downtown YMCA before the building is sold?
Annual and recurring deficits are too substantial. In addition, the costs of resuming fitness activities at the Downtown YMCA would entail a major investment as the facilities need to be renovated, as well as substantial annual indexed maintenance costs. To date, no potential partner has stepped forward and we can no longer wait. We do, however, encourage our members to get involved in our philanthropic work and fundraising events to support our community programs.
9. Will fitness and aquatic activities be included in the Downtown Y’s redevelopment project?
It is too soon to say as we are in the process of evaluating all long-term scenarios.
However, one thing is clear: the habits of residents and workers have changed. There are fewer people working out downtown and we cannot and will not be able to cover the costs to maintain the large fitness facilities, including the pool, without a partnership. Without a partnership, we cannot operate these large fitness facilities, pool included. We would, however, like to offer fitness activities, but they will need to be offered in a different format.
10. Is there no other solution for you aside from the sale of the Downtown YMCA?
We took several years to properly evaluate all the potential long-term scenarios. With the new reality of downtown, redefining our physical footprint and moving close by seem to be the most viable and responsible options for the long term.
11. Where and when will you relocate the Downtown YMCA programs?
It is too soon to answer this question. The call to tenders to find a broker is the first step in a long process. We will continue to keep stakeholders informed in a proactive manner. For right now, there will be no changes for our teams or to the programming offered. It will be business as usual for the YMCA International Language School, TeenZone, and community programs offered at the Downtown YMCA.
12. What will happen to the special sense of community that existed at the Downtown YMCA?
For over 170 years, the YMCA has always known how to reinvent itself and it will continue to do so. There is no doubt that the transformation of our physical footprint in downtown will bring about changes. Our intention is to create a new community hub in a smaller space, which better suits the programs we offer, while staying in the same neighbourhood.
13. During the transition, will the empty premises at the Downtown YMCA be available to organizations to rent?
When possible, absolutely! We have already approved several requests to rent and we are continuing to examine all the requests we receive. For all rental requests, please email email@example.com.
14. Why didn’t you develop a partnership for the Downtown YMCA?
We've had several meetings and discussions since our call for partnerships in March 2021. The sums required to enable us to maintain the site and its large sports facilities are significant. No partnership of the magnitude needed to resume sports activities on a viable basis has been concluded to date, and we must proceed with the sale of the site to ensure the sustainability of the YMCA's mission.
15. Will you sell other YMCA centres?
The centres located in buildings owned by the YMCAs of Québec and which are receiving funding to cover annual operating and maintenance costs will continue the activities planned in the partnership.