COVID-19 permanently claims Windsor YMCA

Central Park Athletics, Windsor.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been blamed for the announced closure of a local YMCA branch.

The YMCA of Southwestern Ontario reported Tuesday afternoon that it has closed the facility at the Central Park Athletics complex in Windsor, effective immediately.

The branch has suffered a huge membership decline during the course of the pandemic. Since the Y opened in 2016, it had over 3,200 memberships at its peak. Most recently, the rolls had dwindled to about 1,000 members, who were primarily using the day camp and drop-in programs.

Andrew Lockie, CEO of the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, said every effort was made to keep the branch functional in the face of difficult circumstances.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many businesses and organizations, and our YMCA is not immune to this,” said Lockie in a media release. “While we have done everything we can do to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on this branch, the temporary closure has resulted in declining membership and ultimately, an unsustainable operating model. This decline occurred despite not collecting membership fees during the closure and we anticipate this trend would continue if we were to resume operations.”

Memberships at the Central Park location have been cancelled, and members do not need to take additional action.

The location had received some of the highest satisfaction marks among YMCAs across Canada. That fact is of no comfort to Lockie.

“Our goal was always to grow membership to serve many more individuals and families in Windsor and ensure the branch was financially viable, however, COVID-19 has created circumstances that are largely beyond our control, not just in the health and fitness world, but for so many individuals, families, and businesses.”

The YMCA will continue to operate locally, with emphasis on community-based programs, children’s educational services, and newcomer services.