Town Discussing Options with YMCA to Operate The Centre

Posted: October 25, 2017

Town Discussing Options with YMCA to Operate The Centre

Petrolia, ON – The Town of Petrolia and the YMCA are currently discussing the option of the YMCA assuming operations of The Oil Heritage District Community Centre (The Centre) under a contract that would provide them a fee for service.

As part of the town’s focus on both fiscal responsibility and maintaining operations of town-owned facilities in a way that best supports the ratepayers, the arrangement, if approved, would see operations being entrusted to the YMCA.  The agreement would not be unlike those in place for other municipal services including management of the waste water treatment plant, and artistic direction for the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.  As part of the agreement, the Town of Petrolia would continue to retain ownership of the property.

Although no contract has been developed, early discussions have been positive and reflect the opportunity to pursue the health and wellness focus that both Council and staff have for Petrolia.  Community wellbeing is being considered in every step of the process and will remain the focus throughout.

Staff at The Centre are being provided notice of the discussions, and the YMCA has committed to providing first consideration to all current, qualified staff at The Centre to fulfill all available roles.  The YMCA will work in good faith, consistent with their ongoing commitment to the communities they currently serve. 

Mayor John McCharles said, “We are excited at the prospect of discussing all options with the leadership team at the YMCA.  Both the Town of Petrolia and the YMCA are both fully committed to working with residents and members to determine what will best fit our community, and provide us the best outcome for the future.”

Community consultation by the YMCA is planned in the coming weeks, starting tomorrow, October 26, at Boomers Extra at The Centre.  There will be multiple opportunities for our community to participate in conversations with the YMCA.  Some key groups have been contacted already, and others will also be contacted to ensure that they are part of the discussion.

The community is invited to participate in the Community Consultations that are now being scheduled.  Public meetings will be announced shortly, and some of the consultations will be closed meetings with specific groups.  Members and residents are asked to visit www.activepetrolia.ca for updates on the public consultation opportunities.  A separate media release will also be sent with the scheduled dates and details.

A contract for discussion will be drawn up, and presented to Council in December based on the outcomes of the public consultation series, and with consideration to making a change with minimal disruption and change to the member experience.  If approved, the YMCA would assume operation of The Centre as of March 2018.

Current available scheduled consultations are here:

Public Consultation Phase with the YMCA’s “Petrolia Discovery Team”

·         October 26, 2017 – noon – gymnasium at The Centre – first public consultation by the YMCA will take place when they visit Boomers Extra for questions and answers and information gathering

·         November 15, 2017 – 7-8 p.m. – Program Room at The Centre – Existing Members first meeting for questions, answers and information sharing

·         November 17, 2017 – 12- 1 p.m. – Program Room at The Centre – Existing Members Second opportunity meeting for questions, answers and information sharing

·         November 17, 2017 – 3-4 p.m. – Program Room at The Centre – First opportunity for the public to meet with the YMCA for questions, answers and information sharing

Further public and private sessions are currently being scheduled, and updates will be provided as the information is available.  Parties looking to attend a session are reminded to visit activepetrolia.ca. 

About the YMCA

The YMCA is a recognized leader in building of healthy communities. The Y is focused on building health, ensuring belonging, and helping everyone we serve achieve their full potential – at any age or stage.

The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario current serve more than 21,000 participants in the region, at 49 locations, throughout Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent, Goderich-Huron, North Middlesex, Lambton Shores, Central Huron.

The YMCA is open to all, regardless of financial ability. The Y’s goal to serve as many community members as possible and provides subsidy when needed to ensure this goal. Last year, 1 in 5 participants in YMCA programs were there because the YMCA is a charity. In 2016, that equaled more than $479,000 in financial assistance.

With the YMCA’s all-in-one membership, members get all programs and services in one place for one price. That means more value for your hard-earned dollars, including:

●        Swimming lessons

●        Recreation programs for all ages, both registered and drop-in

●        Preschool and youth programming

●        Fitness Centre access

●        Group Fitness classes

●        Pool access

●        Fitness program design and wellness coaching

●        Open gym time

●        Additional discounts for camp and other special programs

The YMCA is looking forward to hearing from the residents of Petrolia about the kind of programming that will help them maintain their health goals and enhance their recreational experiences.

What is going to change?

The YMCA’s main goal is to minimize any change or disruption and to bring forward our expertise in community health and fitness to enhance member experience.

Community consultations will help inform much of the programming and services offered at the Centre. We believe in designing programs and experiences for the community, with the community.

We are fully committed to maintaining all partnerships that share our goal of building a Community of Health in Petrolia. For example, we understand there is a strong and vibrant Boomers program at the Centre now, which we look forward to continuing.

While our pricing model is different than the current operations, this means more value for the dollar in every community we serve, and helps ensure we can maintain our charitable goal of ensuring access to everyone in the community, regardless of ability to pay.

If you’re already a member of another YMCA (e.g. in Sarnia), you can choose to use either location, and enroll in registered programs at your home branch. In fact, as a YMCA member, you get free access to all branch locations across Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s happening with this project? Are the Town and the YMCA partnering?
The Town is considering contracting the operation of the Oil Heritage District Community Centre to the YMCA.  The Town will retain ownership of the facility and all its assets.  In doing so the Centre’s history and community donor recognition will be preserved.  The YMCA will offer an enhanced membership experience and build on the Centre’s history and service to the health of the Petrolia community. If approved, the arrangement would not be unlike those in place for other municipal services including water and artistic direction for the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.

What does this mean for members?

Model & Fees
The YMCA membership model is an all-inclusive model. That means greater value for membership dollar with more programs and services included for one standard price. The YMCA intends to design a membership model that is in keeping with its existing models throughout the region and reflective of feedback received during the community consultations.

Programming may change. In conducting the community consultations, the YMCA will seek to preserve those programs that are valued by the community and the Centre’s membership, while also exploring any gaps in programming that the YMCA may address.

Membership experience and retention is a key priority for the YMCA in all our locations. The YMCA aims to improve membership experience through our national service quality standards program and based on 100 years serving communities with health, fitness and aquatics programs.


What are the cost implications?
The YMCA’s expertise in health, fitness, and aquatics operations brings with it operational efficiencies that will reduce the Town’s required annual contribution to the Centre.  More importantly, the YMCA’s mission of Building Healthy Communities will complement efforts underway in the Town to improve health and wellness and the Town’s strategic goal of becoming a Community of Health.  The YMCA will also engage with volunteers and donors to support programs, services, and access to the Centre for those in financial need.

What are the implications for current employees / jobs?
The YMCA will accept applications from existing Town staff and will conduct a Job Fair specifically for them. The YMCA is rooted in the communities we serve and we value the skills of current Centre employees. Existing Town staff will have first opportunity to be interviewed for and considered for job openings with the YMCA in Petrolia. In all hiring decisions, the YMCA will apply its high organizational standards to the recruitment, training, and deployment of its staff team. YMCA staff members become part of a national and worldwide movement and are eligible for a comprehensive benefit plan and employee support programs and offerings that are different from those offered by the Town. In creating its own local workforce, the YMCA will also be able to implement and monitor Child Protection standards, among other quality standards programs, within its employee base. 

Can non-members still use the Centre?
The Centre will remain available to non-members.  A day use pass will be available for those seeking occasional use of the Centre.

What are the implications for Petrolia residents who currently use other YMCA branches?
You can use your membership at YMCA branches across the country.  Dropping in for a swim, a workout, or an aerobics class at any YMCA is just one of the many benefits of being a member.  Enrollment based programming, such as swimming lessons, are available to members at their home branch.  Should you intend to use enrollment based programs for your or your family members in Petrolia you should move your membership to make this your home branch.

What is the timeline for the project?
Community Consultations will occur in November and will shape the YMCA’s submission to Council in December.  It is projected that, if approved, YMCA operations would launch in Petrolia in March of 2018.


What is next in this process?
Community Consultations are now being scheduled.  Some consults will be conducted as closed meetings with specific groups and some will be open to the Centre’s existing membership and the public.  Please visit activepetrolia.ca for details on upcoming consultations.

Public and private sessions are currently being scheduled, and updates will be provided as the information is available.  Parties looking to attend a session are reminded to visit activepetrolia.ca. 


For more information:

Richard Poore

Director of Cultural Services

Town of Petrolia

411 Greenfield Street

Petrolia, Ontario, N0N 1R0

Phone: (519)882-2350 Ext. 239

E-mail: rpoore@petrolia.ca