On November 28th, approximately 130 people turned out for a Saugeen Shores public meeting at the Plex regarding an aquatic/recreation/fitness facility and the proposed partnership by the Twon with the YMCA.
Gayle Graham, Chief Executive Officer of the Owen Sound YMCA, explained that it is a registered charity overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors and, as a charity, it can apply for funding. The 60,000 square foot $40 million facility not only focuses on aquatics but also offers full-service fitness, Child Care, Housing Supports and Employment Services.
When asked if the Owen Sound facility had affected small private businesses offering the same services, Graham said that with the interest the ‘Y’ generates in fitness, similar businesses might see an increase of usage. “We feel there is room for co-existence in a community,” she added.
The facility in Owen Sound employs some 80 people with 25 at full-time, according to Graham. Concerns were raised by audience members as to whether or not, the Saugeen Shores Lifesaving Club (SSLC) would be affected under a YMCA partnership. The Club has established a reputation for excellence on a national and international level. Although Graham said that the ‘Y’ hires from within the community, she would not confirm that SSLC staff would, in fact, be hired under a partnership, but also said that the ‘Y’ recognizes the expertise that is currently in Saugeen Shores.
As part of the research process on the viability of a YMCA in Saugeen Shores, the Town has commissioned the consulting firm of LeisurePlan International Inc. to undertake a Market Study. The purpose of the Market Study is to determine the financial feasibility of a YMCA and the potential interest in the amenities it could provide to the community.
A telephone survey is currently being conducted focusing on 417 individuals in the community between the ages of 20-64 years of age. This target audience was identified by the consultants as the group with the biggest impact on the viability of a new facility.
In a Town media release, according to John Stevenson of LeisurePlan International Inc., “Based on experience and best practice, the main reason for this focus is that they are the age group with the greatest impact on operational revenue. Determining the viability of the adult market is the foundation for establishing the financial viability of facility operation and service provision.”
While the phone survey’s primary purpose is to determine financial feasibility, other steps are being taken to ensure the town has a full picture of interest in the potential facility. This includes engaging directly with users through focus groups and round table meetings.
A public round table discussion has been scheduled for Wednesday, December 19th at 2:00 pm in Rotary Hall at The Plex.