Saskatoon

Saskatoon committee endorses plan for joint venture with YMCA on new east side leisure centre

Councillors on the City of Saskatoon's planning committee are backing a plan to partner with the YMCA on a new leisure centre to be built on the far east side of the city.

Move will still need to be approved by city council

Saskatoon city council is looking at partnering with the Saskatoon YMCA on a new leisure centre on the east side of the city. (Saskatoon YMCA/Submitted)

Councillors on the City of Saskatoon's planning committee are backing a plan to partner with the YMCA on a new leisure centre to be built on the far east side of the city.

If the plan is approved, both the YMCA and City would help manage the new facility, scheduled to be built in the city's Holmwood Sector, with a targeted opening date of 2028.

At the city's planning committee on Monday morning, councillors said this was a good way to fund a leisure centre without having to pay for the entire project.

"There have been other examples where we've stepped outside the box on certain projects like the Merlis Belsher Centre, which has had a huge impact on Saskatoon Minor Hockey," said Coun. Troy Davies. 

"It was a partnership with us and the U of S and the minor hockey association, which really made an impact at a minimal cost to our mil rates and taxpayers."

Under the proposed plan, the new leisure centre, which would include a pool and exercise facility, would accept city leisure cards as well as YMCA membership holders. Membership holders would be able to access additional programming at the facility.

"Ultimately, the goal is to provide near equivalent access for leisure card holders to the new facility as they would experience at our existing facilities with no additional significant cost," said Andrew Roberts, director of recreation and community development.

Administration said the new leisure centre complex could become part of a new public-Catholic joint-use school expected to be built in the area. While the school has not received any capital funding from the provincial government as of yet, discussions are ongoing with both the Saskatoon Public and Greater Saskatoon Catholic School divisions on the project.

In 2008, Saskatoon built the Shaw Leisure Centre in the Blairmore neighbourhood on the west side, which is connected to Tommy Douglas Collegiate and Bethlehem Catholic High School.

Meanwhile, the YMCA said it's hoping that the plan will be approved.

"I think it's great benefit to the entire community," said Saskatoon YMCA CEO Dean Dodge.

"When we look at how this partnership will impact both the YMCA and the city, we think it'll allow each organisation to bring its best to this partnership."

The city noted that the YMCA would be able to use volunteers at its facility and would also be able to fundraise, something that is not an option for civic facilities.

The City of Saskatoon would still own the facility and the land. The YMCA would be in charge of managing the facility and would hire and train all employees.

Councillors were also given several other options, including having the YMCA completely fund the project or the City fully fund the project.

The matter will now go to city council for final approval.

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