YMCA of Niagara announces the Walker Family YMCA has been listed for sale

Process expected to unfold over six to 10 months

The YMCA of Niagara is listing the Walker Family YMCA building and property at 25 YMCA Drive for sale as it examines new program delivery options in St. Catharines.

This announcement follows extensive due diligence by the YMCA’s senior leadership team, expert external advisors and the YMCA Board of Directors. Colliers Real Estate has been retained to manage the listing.

The YMCA of Niagara made this very difficult decision due to financial pressures. The Walker Family YMCA Health, Fitness and Aquatics Centre has been experiencing significant membership losses over the past several years, even prior to the pandemic. The facility is now 27 years old and has seen rising maintenance costs and will require ongoing capital investments. YMCA projections indicate that membership numbers will likely continue to decline. Delivering YMCA programs and services in a facility as large as our Walker Family YMCA is no longer economically sustainable.

“We take great pride in the legacy of our Walker Family YMCA and the lives that have been affected in so many positive ways over the past 27 years through this facility,” said Mike Watt, Board Chair. “We truly believe that the sale of the Walker Family YMCA is a step we must take to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Association helping to ensure we can continue serving the community of St. Catharines and the Niagara Region for many years to come. We have no plans to close any other YMCA facilities at this time.”

The Walker YMCA Health, Fitness and Aquatics Centre has not reopened for in-person visits since December 26, 2020. Full membership programs will not resume at the Walker YMCA Centre, however, the YMCA is considering offering programs such as summer Day Camp, EarlyON and some pre-registered health and fitness programs when it is safe to do so. Licensed Child Care operations have continued without interruption as well as a range of virtual programs for EarlyON, community outreach, health and fitness and children’s programs which can be accessed through the website.

“We are conducting a comprehensive market research and feasibility study to explore the viability of new program delivery models and location(s) in St. Catharines,” said Steve Boone, Interim CEO. “Our goal is to try and ensure a smooth transition for our Health, Fitness and Aquatics members, children and families. If viable, we would seek to relocate some programs to new locations, that allow us to serve more people in more places locally.”

Our intention is to provide alternative YMCA Child Care options for our current licensed child care families. We are also exploring options to relocate our EarlyON Child and Family Centre. In the interim, there are no immediate impacts to the Walker Child Care services and the current EarlyON virtual delivery of programs remains uninterrupted.

“We take our responsibility to steward the current and future resources of the YMCA of Niagara very seriously,” said Mike Watt, Board Chair. “As we welcome a new incoming CEO to the organization, we look forward to the creation of a new strategic plan that will guide the YMCA to meet the changing needs of the community for many years to come.”

The YMCA will continue to provide more information via the website and through direct correspondence with stakeholders as the sales process unfolds.

Mike Watt, Board Chair, spoke to Newstalk 610 CKTB on March 10; to listen to the interview, click here.