YMCA to take over operations at Petrolia Community Centre

Petrolia council approved a proposal from The Y to operate the Oil Heritage District Community Centre

The Oil Heritage District Community Centre will be operated by the YMCA starting this spring. (J.D. Booth/Lambton Shield)

While it’s technically a town, Petrolia now has a little more in common with the Village People (at least when it comes to the singing group’s “anthem” song—YMCA).

The town announced on Monday, January 22 council’s acceptance of a YMCA proposal to operate the Oil Heritage District Community Centre– commonly known as The Centre. A day later the YMCA’s board ratified the agreement at its January 23 meeting.

While transition costs associated with the deal are expected to cost the town almost $45,000 in 2018– due to a $180,000 bill for the transition and a $50,000 contingency fund to cover any loses at the Sarnia YMCA—the agreement will reduce the town’s annual investment in The Centre and the Y’s operating efficiency is expected to save the town over $500,000 over a five-year period, according to a Town of Petrolia press release.

The deal is expected to see membership at The Centre increase from the 2016 number of 650 members to 870 members by 2022– largely due to expected members migrating from the Sarnia YMCA to the Petrolia facility.

The YMCA reached out to the town last January to see if there was interest in a potential relationship marking the third time that Petrolia and the Y met to discuss operating proposals.

The agreement assures that current staff at the Centre will have the first opportunity to apply for jobs with the Y.

While most changes will involve programming, the YMCA deal includes recommended operating hours which are similar to the current schedule but includes shorter summer hours and closed doors holidays. According to the press release, these hours are based on the YMCA’s experience in other municipalities but remain flexible.

The popular Boomers Extra program and the Lambton Central Petrolia Optimist Club’s meeting space agreement will both continue at The Centre under the agreement.

As part of the agreement, the Y will offer an assisted membership program with subsidized access to membership and programs for individuals and families in financial need. It is estimated that 11% of members at the Centre will require assistance.

The initial agreement is a five-year term with the option for an extension if both the town and the Y agree. Alternatively, after five years either party can end the relationship based on the agreed upon terms.

Petrolia’s five-year capital plan– stretching from 2018 to 2022 and estimated at $380,000– is the same regardless of whether the YMCA or the Town of Petrolia operate The Centre.

Under the agreement, the YMCA will give the town monthly financial reports, quarterly operational reports, an annual operating review, and submit a proposed annual operating budget, capital budget, and operational plan.

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