New Saint John YMCA site planned for Crescent Valley

The New Brunswick government is offering a 1.3-hectare parcel of land and $300,000 toward the design of a new YM-YWCA facility in Saint John.

The New Brunswick government is offering a 1.3-hectare parcel of land and $300,000 toward the design of a new YM-YWCA facility in Saint John's north end.

The new building will be built in the Crescent Valley area, which is one of the city’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The 1.36-hectare piece of property is on the north side of Churchill Boulevard in Crescent Valley. The land will be sold for $1 to the YMCA.

The Department of Social Development signed a land transfer agreement with the Saint John YMCA.

The old YMCA building was demolished four years ago to make way for the new provincial courthouse in Saint John.

The provincial government is also setting aside funding to help the project.

The Regional Development Corp. is offering $300,000 to help design the proposed 6,410 sq.-metre facility.

The new YMCA will include a gymnasium, walking track, fitness centre, fitness area, 25-metre leisure pool, preschool centre, daycare area, after-school rooms, classrooms, computer lab, administration space and a café, according to the provincial government.

"Empowering New Brunswickers to live more actively is vital to growing healthier communities and a stronger province," said Wellness, Culture and Sport Minister Trevor Holder in a statement.

"Our government's participation in the Saint John Y is an investment in the wellness of the city and region, now and in the future."

Herb Duncan, a north-end advocate, is excited by the development, describing it as an opportunity to revitalize the neighbourhood.

"I believe it'll be a catalyst to bring about some demographic changes in the area," he said.

Community activist Juanita Black agrees it will be a boost in the arm for the area and for people who live there.

"If you build something new, others will come, and that's what we're hoping," she said. "This gives an opportunity for employment for residents that live right in the community, for exercise, for motivation. It's an amazing thing."

Scott Crawford, president of One Change, is also enthusiastic about it.

"We've got a couple of communities where we have people in need of recreation services, of health and wellness services, and they often don't have the means to transportation to get to other parts of the city. So, to have it within the boundaries, what an exciting proposition to have," he said.

A construction date has not yet been set.