The City of Victoria has pledged to increase its quality of health and wellness services in a collaboration with the YMCA/YWCA of Vancouver Island.
The two institutions made their working relationship official last week with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, an agreement that recognizes a 50-year history of co-operation. As both the City and the Y embark on building new facilities, the goal in working together is to make sure both provide complimentary services without overlap, said Mayor Lisa Helps said.
“The Y has a request for proposals out right now to build a new facility somewhere in the downtown, and the City of Victoria is rebuilding our Crystal Pool on the existing site,” she explained, noting that between the Y and the city, one million visitors per year utilize their facilities.
“We want to make sure we rebuild them in a way that’s going to have more accessible recreation for more people,” Helps said. “But also to make sure we’re not just building the same thing in both places and really then missing an opportunity.”
Christine Gleed, board chair for the YMCA/YWCA said their organization has had a presence in downtown Victoria for over 140 years, 50 of those spent working directly with the City.
“People expect us to work together,” she said. “We’re not planning any amalgamation. It’s really about committing to running our own facilities in a collaborative way … it’s more about providing more than providing less.”
The Y has carved out an identity as a major provider of child care, and hopes to expand on that as well as housing programs, based on their non-profit model. Gleed points out that as the city grows, less families are living in homes, so demand for gathering spaces such as community kitchens are something the Y is looking at offering with a new space, similar to its location in Vancouver.
“We’re seeing an unprecedented era of co-operation in the region right now,” Helps said. “It’s exciting.”