The Vancouver Island YMCA-YWCA is looking at reopening its downtown Victoria and Westhills facilities on July 16 with new COVID-19 protocols and a new membership structure to help make up for lost revenue. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria’s YMCA-YWCA reopening with new app, membership structure

One fee of $50 set to start July 16

After months of being closed, the Vancouver Island YMCA-YWCA will reopen with updated safety measures, a new app and a new membership structure.

The target date for reopening the downtown Victoria and Westhills branches is July 16 with membership registration opening on July 14, the same time the new smartphone app will be available for download. The Eagle Creek location will remain closed at this time.

“We’ve put together a whole new set of protocols and are now in the process of training up staff and doing the layout of the physical space,” said Derek Gent, YMCA-YWCA Vancouver Island chief executive. “It’s been a massive planning exercise.”

The biggest difference membership holders will recognize when at the YMCA-YWCA facilities is the physical spacing between machines and the need to reserve a time slot. Those interested will be able to book hour-long sessions and staff will be given an hour between sessions to clean. Group fitness classes, yoga, cycling and pools will also be open.

Lobbies, change rooms, steam and sauna and the racquet courts will be closed and showers reserved for those using the pool.

READ ALSO: Victoria’s YMCA-YWCA explores taking over space and downtown Capitol 6 theatre

Being closed during the pandemic has hurt the YMCA-YWCA financially, Gent said, so a new membership structure with just a single category and cost of about $50 for adults has been created. Members can access Victoria and Westhills locations as well available YMCA-YWCA programs. Previously, membership had a tiered structure with different rates coming with different benefits such as access to one or all facilities and varying programs.

“We’ve been keen to get open again because when we shut down we lost 85 per cent of our revenue,” Gent said. “We struggled on how to bring folks back with multiple tiers of membership and decided to do just one category open to whatever is available.”

Members who made a March membership payment, or those who purchased an annual membership, receive a pro-rated credit on their account based on the remaining days in their membership when the facilities closed on March 17. The credits will be available towards a new purchase or will remain on member accounts indefinitely.

Gent said some have indicated they’re not ready to return to the facilities yet and that decision will be respected, however those considering coming back are asked to start their memberships again if possible to help the YMCA-YWCA out.

READ ALSO: Vancouver Island YMCA/YWCA locations close in response to COVID-19

When they shut down, 250 staff were laid off and some aren’t returning due to finding other jobs or not being comfortable doing so. He said those returning are excited but a possible second wave of COVID-19 keeps him up at night.

“The virus is in charge so we’re going to manage to that in the local context,” Gent said. “We certainly don’t want to be contributing towards it.”

With so much uncertainty in the air, Gent said he thinks the reopening of the YMCA-YWCA Vancouver Island will bring some positivity to the community and its members.

“I’m hopeful this reopening is a ray of sunshine,” Gent said.

To learn more visit vancouverislandy.com.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


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