Updated January 22, 2018


General Background

The YMCA reached out to the Town of Petrolia in January of 2017 to enquire if there was any interest in reviewing a potential relationship. This would mark the third time that the Town of Petrolia and the YMCA have met since 2005 to discuss potential Operating Proposals.

The YMCA utilizes a financial assistance membership program to help individuals and families who have the greatest need in our community.  Financial aid is available to those who are unable to pay full regular fees.  It is estimated that approximately 11% of The Centre’s members will require assistance.

By the Numbers

  • Over five years, the cumulative, conservative, municipal savings is projected to be:  2018: -$44,716 (est. $180,000 in transition costs with a $50,000 contingency and $40,000 allocated to potential expenses related to offset funding to mitigate loss of revenue at the YMCA Jerry McCaw Family Centre in 2018 only); 2019: $133,710; 2020: $138,181; 2021: $142,798; 2022: $147,565.  This represents a total savings over 5 years of $517,538.
  • Conservative membership projections:  growth of 15% in 2018 (largely due to the projection of members moving from the YMCA Jerry McCaw Family Centre in Sarnia to Petrolia), and 3% each year for the following four years, taking the total from 653 in 2016 to an estimated 870 in 2022.
  • The proposal is for a five-year term with the option for extension if both parties agree, or with the option for either party to end the relationship based on the agreed upon terms.   
  • The Town of Petrolia five-year capital plan (2018-2022, estimated $380,000) is the same regardless of whether the YMCA or the Town of Petrolia operate The Centre.
  • The YMCA has better economies of scale to help guide the success of The Centre through the YMCA national procurement program.

Proposal Highlights

  • The YMCA operates several municipal facilities through the YMCA Rural Community Health & Wellness partnership model and is part of an international association.
  • The YMCA offers recognized expertise, staff training and development, and staff career advancement opportunities.
  • The YMCA proposal includes several opportunities for volunteerism, however, the operating budgets do not reflect any savings from wages of regular staff for the use of volunteers.  Volunteers add to the YMCA, they do not take the place of potential employment opportunities.
  • The YMCA proposal included recommended hours for The Centre, which are similar to the current schedule, but reflect shorter summer hours—when people spend more time outside, and closures on holidays.  These hours were derived from the YMCA’s experience in other municipalities, but are flexible should need arise, or should there be evidence to support changes.
  • The YMCA proposal includes the intent to report to the Town of Petrolia monthly regarding financials, offer a quarterly operational report, and an annual operating review.  The YMCA would provide the Town of Petrolia with a proposed annual operating budget, a capital budget, and supporting operational plan for The Centre in November of each year.
  • Boomers Plus would remain at The Centre, and the Lambton Central Petrolia Optimist Club’s agreement regarding meeting space will continue.
  • There were more than 10 consultancy meetings held in Petrolia throughout the Discovery Phase, with the final meeting in the series being held on January 15, 2018 where the proposal was made available and presented in a Public Open House and Special Meeting of Council.


What's happening with this project?
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 of 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 management of the wastewater treatment plant, and artistic direction for the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.

What does this mean for members?

a) Model & Fees

The Centre will continue to be accessible to all members of the Petrolia community through day use passes and the YMCA’s membership model, which currently serves more than 21,000 people across the region.

The YMCA membership model is an all-inclusive model. That means greater value for your membership, with more programs and services included for one standard price, including:

  • Swimming lessons
  • Additional discounts for camp and other special programs
  • Open gym time
  • Fitness program design and wellness coaching
  • Pool access
  • Group Fitness classes
  • Fitness Centre access
  • Preschool and youth programming
  • Recreation programs for all ages, both registered and drop-in

The YMCA intends to design a membership model that reflects the unique needs of the Petrolia community, is in keeping with our existing models throughout the region, and is reflective of feedback received during the community consultations. All comments on the model and pricing will be welcomed.

b) Accessibility
As a charity, the YMCA offers financial assistance to ensure all individuals and families have access health, fitness and aquatic programming, regardless of financial ability. Our goal is always to serve as many people as possible.

c) Programming
Programming may change. In conducting community consultations, the YMCA will seek to preserve those programs that are valued by the community and the Centre’s membership, while balancing this with a fiscally responsible operating model and exploring any gaps in programming that the YMCA may address.

d) Experience
Membership experience and retention is a key priorities for the YMCA in all of 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 is rooted in the communities we serve and we value the skills of current Centre employees. To date, we have held consultations for current Centre staff and over 50% have participated. We have been impressed with their dedication to serving the community and with what we heard in terms of suggestions to improve the Centre and its programming.

The YMCA is committed to accepting applications from existing Town staff and will conduct a Job Fair specifically for them. 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 our high organizational standards to the recruitment, training, and deployment of our staff team. Successful applicants will be provided with relevant job training and all required certifications, for example, any training needed to convert Red Cross Certified Swim Instructors to YMCA Swim Instructor Certification.

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. They also have access to job opportunities at YMCAs across the region, as well as ongoing on the job training to expand their skills and knowledge base. In creating our own local workforce the YMCA will also be able to implement and monitor Child Protection standards, among other quality standards programs, within our employee base.  

All of this said, absolutely nothing has been decided on the detailed model at this point, nor will it be decided until all consultations are complete.  
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. Community consultations will help inform the model and rates for this type of use.

The YMCA is accessible and open to all, members and non-members, and because we are a charity, ability to pay is not a barrier to participation for any individuals or families. Our goal is always to serve as many people as possible.

What are the implications for Petrolia residents who currently use other YMCA branches?
YMCA membership can be used 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.  Local residents that intend to use enrollment based programs for themselves or family members in Petrolia  should move  their membership to the Petrolia branch.

What is the timeline for the project?
Community consultations will occurred in October and November and will shape the YMCA’s submission to Council in January. It is projected that, if approved, YMCA operations would launch in Petrolia in spring of 2018.

What is next in this process?

Community Consultations have been completed, and the draft proposal will be available for the public to view on January 15, 2018 at a public meeting from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers. The Special Meeting of Council following the public meeting will start at 7:00 p.m., with the vote taking place on Monday, January 22, 2018 at the Regular Council Meeting at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall.

The operating model we the YMCA will propose to Council will reflect the unique needs of the Petrolia community. We are The YMCA is committed to an operating model that:

  • Is fiscally responsible, reducing the annual investment in The Centre required of the Town;
  • Builds a sustainable operating model that continues to serve the community’s evolving needs;
  • Serves as many people as possible, including those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford health and fitness programming;
  • Includes popular programs and new programs that respond to the evolving needs of the community.

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