E.J. Freeland YMCA Update – February 21, 2020

February 21, 2020 marked the last day of operations at our E.J. Freeland location.

We would like to thank our members, staff, volunteers and the Fort Erie community for their support of our YMCA over the past 30 years, and as we move through transition to a new model of program and service delivery in Fort Erie.

We look forward to being able to serve your Health, Fitness and Aquatics needs at one of our other YMCA of Niagara locations. We encourage you to visit the location of choice or click here for more information.

Many YMCA programs are continuing uninterrupted in Fort Erie:

  • Licensed Child Care will continue to be offered before and after school at St. Philomena Catholic Elementary School
  • Youth Action for 10 to 14 year olds will continue at St. Philomena Catholic Elementary School on Tuesdays and Peace Bridge Public School on Wednesdays from 6 to 8pm at no cost
  • Youth Sports Leagues will continue to operate at community school locations. Volleyball registration is currently open online at ymcaofniagara.org
  • YMCA Summer Camp will also continue to be offered in Fort Erie over the March Break and Summer. Please visit ymcadaycamp.ca for camp information and to register

The YMCA is working collaboratively with the Boys and Girls Club related to the potential delivery of some YMCA Group Fitness Programs in the context of their new sessional program model.

More information will follow from the Boys and Girls Club about their program schedule.


E.J. Freeland YMCA Update – December 19, 2019

YMCA of Niagara, Town of Fort Erie and Boys and Girls Club finalize agreements for the future of the E.J. Freeland Community Centre

FORT ERIE, ON (December 19, 2019) The YMCA of Niagara and Town of Fort Erie have finalized an agreement to transfer ownership of the EJ Freeland Community Centre and land from the YMCA of Niagara to the Town. The agreement also includes a wide range of program equipment currently located at the facility. YMCA operations will cease at the EJ Freeland Community Centre on February 21, 2020. The Town of Fort Erie has named the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara to be the future primary tenant and service provider at this location starting April 1, 2020.

“On behalf of Council, I would like to thank the YMCA of Niagara for working with us to ensure a smooth transfer of the facility and equipment. Our residents expressed a strong desire to keep the EJ Freeland Community Centre open and for recreational programming and services to continue. This agreement, and the one with the Boys and Girls Club, gives us the ability to ensure that current and future residents will continue to have access to programs that are critical to their health, recreation and well-being,” said Mayor Wayne Redekop.

In March 2019, the YMCA of Niagara announced it could no longer afford to continue its membership operations at the EJ Freeland location in the face of increasing financial (capital) pressures and the urgent need to make significant investments in the asset and facility. Following the announcement, the YMCA of Niagara completed a comprehensive community consultation. The consultation revealed a desire from the community to continue program delivery at the EJ Freeland location, if possible. In order to help achieve this, the YMCA of Niagara and the Town of Fort Erie negotiated the sale of the land and equipment for $1.

“Our members resoundingly expressed a strong preference for program delivery to continue at the EJ Freeland location over any satellite program delivery option,” said Kyle Barber, President and CEO, YMCA of Niagara. “Working with the Town and the Boys and Girls Club we are able to develop a transition plan that minimizes disruption and allows us to continue meeting the needs of the Fort Erie community.”

The Town of Fort Erie is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara (BGCN) now that the facility ownership agreement with the YMCA of Niagara is finalized. During their discussions, the YMCA of Niagara and BCGN have expressed a desire to work together to help minimize the impact this transition may have on the current membership and the community as a whole.

“The Boys and Girls Club is pleased to be working with the Town, the YMCA of Niagara and others to offer programs and services that are affordable, flexible and meet community needs at the EJ Freeland Centre. Plans are in place to ensure fitness, aquatics and recreational programs are available next spring with a view to expand and modify programs and services based on community feedback. Specific program information will be available in the new year,” said Joanne Turner, Executive Director, Boys and Girls Club of Niagara.

The YMCA of Niagara will be working with its Fort Erie YMCA staff to identify comparable employment opportunities in other YMCA of Niagara locations. YMCA members at the EJ Freeland location will be given the option to transfer their membership to one of the other YMCA centres in Niagara Falls, Welland, Port Colborne, St. Catharines or Grimsby.

Updates on the transfer of ownership will be posted at https://ymcaofniagara.org/fort-erie-ymca-info/. For more information about future programming at the EJ Freeland Community Centre, please the Boys and Girls Club at ejfreeland@bgcn.ca.


E.J. Freeland YMCA Update – December 16, 2019

Dear YMCA Member,

In keeping with our commitment to ensure you are informed about future operations at the EJ Freeland YMCA in Fort Erie, we are letting you know that, pending the passing of a by-law to ratify the deal at a public meeting of council, we have finalized an agreement to transfer ownership of the building and the land upon which it is situated to the Town of Fort Erie for the price of $1.

The Town of Fort Erie has named the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara to be the future primary tenant and service provider at this location.

The YMCA of Niagara has expressed a willingness to assist the Boys and Girls Club to realize their new vision for program and service delivery. We have offered to provide some specific YMCA programs at the EJ Freeland Centre, should the Boys and Girls Club be interested in contracting them.

The closing date for this transfer agreement is Friday, February 28, 2020. All parties have worked hard to establish a 60-day transition period to ensure a smooth transfer of operations. YMCA operations will cease at the EJ Freeland location on Friday, February 21, 2020.

Beginning in January 2020, we will gradually reduce operating hours and programs at the EJ Freeland Centre as we begin to wind down operations and work to transfer YMCA staff to other YMCA locations in Niagara.

Current YMCA members wishing to transfer their membership to YMCA locations in Niagara Falls, Welland, Port Colborne, St. Catharines and Grimsby may do so by visiting the new location by Monday, January 20, 2020. The YMCA of Niagara will honor the lower fee rate that current Fort Erie members pay until December 31, 2020 inclusive. No joining fee will be charged at any YMCA location in Niagara.

Members wishing to cancel their membership may do so by emailing cancel@niagara.ymca.ca or by visiting any YMCA location in person. For those on continuous billing; based on your scheduled agreement your final payment will either be December 31, 2019 or January 15, 2020.

The finalization of this transfer agreement follows several months of discussions with the Town of Fort Erie and the Boys and Girls Club.

The YMCA of Niagara announced in March 2019 that it could no longer afford to continue its membership operations at the EJ Freeland location in the face of increasing financial (capital) pressures and the urgent need to make significant investments in the asset and facility.

We completed a comprehensive community consultation including:

  • The dissemination of more than 400 surveys;
  • The facilitation of more than 40 hours of focus groups at locations throughout Fort Erie; and
  • A wide range of one-on-one meetings with individuals, partners and stakeholders.

We used input from these consultations to research community priorities and needs. We also tested the viability of alternative “satellite” models for program and service delivery.

Stakeholders resoundingly expressed a strong preference for program delivery to continue at the EJ Freeland location over any satellite program delivery option, with an emphasis on the continuity of aquatic programming.

In a sincere effort to realize this objective, the YMCA of Niagara and the Town of Fort Erie have negotiated the sale of the asset and land for $1. This agreement also includes a wide range of program equipment located at the EJ Freeland facility in an effort to minimize disruptions for the continuity of desired program delivery.

We are working with all of our staff at the EJ Freeland location to identify comparable employment opportunities at other YMCA locations in Niagara.

Despite the change in operations at the EJ Freeland Centre, the YMCA of Niagara remains committed to being part of the community of Fort Erie. We will continue delivering a range of programs across Fort Erie, including Youth Sports Leagues, Youth Action, Day Camp and Licensed Child Care.

The YMCA has been dedicated to building healthy communities in Niagara for 160 years. We appreciate your membership and look forward to the opportunity to continue playing a positive role in your life for years to come.

Should you have any questions about your YMCA membership or how it may be impacted by the upcoming transfer of ownership at the EJ Freeland Centre, please contact us at forterie.feedback@niagara.ymca.ca.

Sincerely,

Kyle Barber
President & CEO
YMCA of Niagara

E.J. Freeland YMCA Update – July 30, 2019

Proposed Sale of EJ Freeland Centre to the Town of Fort Erie

The YMCA of Niagara has formally responded to the Town of Fort Erie’s proposal to transfer ownership of the EJ Freeland Centre from the YMCA to the Town. Based on the Town’s agreement to the following conditions, the YMCA is prepared to move forward with the transfer of the EJ Freeland YMCA:

Conditions include:

  • The building and property would be transferred to the Town “as is.”
  • The agreement would include the building, land and designated equipment, which would be agreed upon by the YMCA and the Town.
  • To protect those in the community who donated to the YMCA for the construction and operation of the EJ Freeland Centre, the Town would be restricted from selling the building or land to another party without the consent of the YMCA.
  • In keeping with the YMCA’s commitment to provide reasonable notice to YMCA staff and members, who are also local Fort Erie residents, the transfer would be completed no sooner than December 2, 2019.
  • Consistent with YMCA privacy practices, member information and YMCA memberships would not be transferred to the Town.

“Through our community consultation process, we heard clearly that the preservation of the EJ Freeland Centre as a community hub for health, fitness and swimming is vital to local residents. Our response to the Town is designed to honour that feedback. We look forward in good faith to developing the plan for this transition with Town of Fort Erie over the coming weeks,” said Kyle Barber, President and CEO, YMCA of Niagara.


E.J. Freeland YMCA Update – July 19, 2019

YMCA of Niagara President and CEO Kyle Barber spoke with Newstalk 610 CKTB on Friday, July 19th to update on the work of the YMCA in Fort Erie including the status of discussions with the Town. We’re committed to keeping the community informed of our plans. Listen to the full audio segment by clicking here.  As Kyle shared with listeners;

  • The YMCA has been actively working through the community consultation process and appreciates the significant response and feedback from Fort Erie residents
  • The YMCA continues to engage in discussions with the Town of Fort Erie and expects to formally respond to their purchase offer for the EJ Freeland YMCA by July 31
  • Any future changes, will be communicated to YMCA members and staff well in advance of any operational changes
  • No formal date has been set for the closure of the EJ Freeland YMCA and YMCA programs and services will continue throughout this process
  • The YMCA has invested more than $3 million dollars to support the facility in recent years and also assumed approximately $740,000 in debt at the time of the buildings transfer

To read more about the EJ Freeland YMCA status please see Niagara This Week’s article, Y to Respond to Town of Fort Erie’s Purchase Offer By Month’s End: CEO


For further reading please see below.

Thank you to everyone who participated in one of our many community consultation sessions and those who took the time to fill out our first survey. We appreciate the thoughtful feedback and comments you’ve shared with us. 


Do you have feedback or questions; email us at Forterie.feedback@niagara.ymca.ca