The debt resulted during the time when the operation and management agreement between the YMCA and the city nad expired. Chief Administrator Helen Collier told council during its June 21 session that city administration and YMCA officials have been meeting and talking to try and work out the details for a new interim management agreement for the facility to maintain operations until the pandemic is over.
“We’re 80 per cent of the way there,” she said, regarding how soon the interim agreement will be ready for council to review and approve.
Meanwhile council members spent approved by a 5-3 registered vote on an administration recommendation for dealing with a request from the YMCA’s National Capital region office (NCR Y) for help with a deficit in the cost of operations for the Clarence-Rockland YMCA during the pandemic. The Clarence-Rockland YMCA was closed to the public as part of the provincial public health emergency order but the agency continued to maintain the facility in anticipation of reopening in the future.
In a recent letter to the city the YMCA claimed more than $400,000 in maintenance and repair costs so far during the pandemic and that it received about $65,000 in reimbursement funds so far from the city. The YMCA claims the city still owes the YMCA more than $340,000 in reimbursement funds for the 2020-2021 fiscal year under the terms of the operation management agreement.
Council members discussed the YMCA’s financial aid request when it first came up for review during their May 17 committee of the whole session. They agreed to set the matter aside and have administration get more information on the matter from the YMCA’s main office.
An email exchange and a June 14 teleconference between city administration and YMCA officials provided more details on the expenses incurred for the Clarence-Rockland facility while it was closed as part of provincial public health safety protocols.
Part of the accumulated deficit includes salary for the YMCA manager who remained available to handle day-to-day expenses like hydro and other utilities costs that still had to be covered even while the building was closed to the public. Janitorial and other maintenance costs are also included in the salaries portion of the deficit. There were some repairs done while the building was closed.
Almost all the regular programming was shut down during the past year, which meant no revenue from Y membership fees. The YMCA summer camp program did operate and user fees for that helped cover some of the costs for the part-time program staff employed.
The administration report noted that the Clarence-Rockland YMCA “is a municipally-owned building and that if the municipality had managed the building during the pandemic it would have had to pay for the costs of maintenance and associated salaries.”
The report included a recommendation to pay the YMCA $308,734 for the remainder of the Clarence-Rockland facility’s expenses during the pandemic. Council members debated whether or not to approve the recommendation or make a counter-proposal for part of the money now and continue talks with the YMCA about the rest of its deficit claim. Collier advised council that the YMCA regional office warned that if it does not get funding help on the deficit for its Clarence-Rockland facility then it will not hold any of its summer day camp programs this year.
Several councilors expressed reluctance to approve the deficit aid recommendation without knowing whether or not le conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien (CSDCEO) is also going to share the cost of the deficit. The Clarence-Rockland YMCA was built as an addition to L’Escale through a partnership agreement between the city, the NCR Y and the CSDCEO).
Collier told council that the CSDCEO has agreed to pay some of the deficit cost but has not yet approved its proposed contribution and will not vote on the matter until later in the month. The CSDCEO does not want the amount made public yet until its own trustees have approved the funds.
Council members agreed to go in-camera then so that Collier could tell them how much the CSDCEO is willing to contribute towards the YMCA deficit. After about a half hour of in-camera discussion council members reopened the public part of their meeting for a registered vote on administration’s recommendation for dealing with the YMCA deficit issue.
Council voted 5-3 to accept the recommendation. Councillors Diane Choinière, Don Bouchard, and Mario Zanth voted against it.
The City of Clarence-Rockland will pay the NRC YMCA $308,734 towards the deficit cost of maintaining and operating the local YMCA during the pandemic. The money will come out of the city’s tax stabilization reserve. When the CSDCEO pays the city its share of the deficit, that money will then go back into the reserve.
Meanwhile city administration will continue talks with the YMCA on a new interim operation and management agreement for the Clarence-Rockland facility while the pandemic continues until it is allowed to reopen to the public.