It opened seven years ago, but it turns out Langford’s YMCA is having trouble staying afloat.
The operation has lost $10 million since opening its doors in 2016, according to documents submitted to the City of Langford.
“We never really cracked the nut of generating enough revenues from the membership to cover all the operating costs,” said YMCA/YWCA Vancouver Island CEO Derek Gent.
Gent says the COVID-19 pandemic made the situation even worse and in order to keep its doors open, it’s now calling on the City of Langford to double its annual funding from $950,000 to $1.9 million.
“Which allows us to stay open and keep operating, and then we work toward a longer-term solution,” said Gent.
Langford council will be discussing the issue at a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night. And it turns out it’s not the only budget issue they’ll grapple with.
A report from staff warns of “significant budget pressures” the city must navigate this year, the result of a long-standing focus on low taxes, reduced taxes during the pandemic, high growth rates, unanticipated legal and financial pressures and unprecedented inflation.
The extra YMCA funding alone would translate into a 2.5 per cent tax increase in Langford for 2023. Something those who use the facility say is worth it.
“It’s a necessity, a lot of us come five days a week, great for those of us who have to rehab injuries,” said Bernadette Armstrong.
“We like to use it as a family, we all come to the gym, we go swimming as a family, and it’s been great to have it so close to home,” said Andrew O’Higgins. “It keeps the health of the community going, right?”
But even if Langford council does approve the extra money, critics say it’s clear something needs to change. Since it opened in 2016, the YMCA was supposed to provide bi-annual reports to council about how things were going, but that never happened.
“They never did. Worse than that, in my view, is that the City of Langford seemingly never asked for the material,” said John Treleaven, chair of the Grumpy Taxpayers of Greater Victoria. “Had either party either revealed information or asked for it, this new council in Langford wouldn’t be in this position today.”
Staff is recommending council approve the funding to keep the YMCA operating the building at least in the short term. If the YMCA closed its doors, the City of Langford would be forced to take over the lease until they found a new operator.