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Victoria YMCA still needs a new home, but Capitol 6 option isn’t dead

Downtown Y’s move remains on hold, while Westshore location has struggled financially

By Michael John Lo
March 8, 2023
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria YMCA still needs a new home, but Capitol 6 option isn’t dead

Downtown Y’s move remains on hold, while Westshore location has struggled financially

A rendering of the proposed Capital VI building by Jawl Properties. The lower podium levels could be used for a new YMCA facility, should the two parties be able to strike a deal. Photo: Jawl Properties
A rendering of the proposed Capital VI building by Jawl Properties. The lower podium levels could be used for a new YMCA facility, should the two parties be able to strike a deal. Photo: Jawl Properties
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria YMCA still needs a new home, but Capitol 6 option isn’t dead

Downtown Y’s move remains on hold, while Westshore location has struggled financially

By Michael John Lo
March 8, 2023
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Victoria YMCA still needs a new home, but Capitol 6 option isn’t dead
A rendering of the proposed Capital VI building by Jawl Properties. The lower podium levels could be used for a new YMCA facility, should the two parties be able to strike a deal. Photo: Jawl Properties

Talks about rebuilding and relocating the downtown Victoria YMCA-YWCA facility haven’t progressed since 2020.

One proposal was to move the Victoria Y—currently located at 851 Broughton—to the site of what is now the downtown Capitol 6 Theatre, where Jawl Properties is planning a mixed-use redevelopment project. YMCA and Jawl Properties signed a non-binding letter of intent in 2019 to look into the possibility of building a new facility at the site.

Since then, redevelopment and rezoning permits for the new building, named Capitol VI, were approved by Victoria city council last October. To the surprise of some locals, those plans did not include a new Y. But both parties told Capital Daily this month that that option is not dead.

“We continue to think that it would be an awesome addition to the project if the right circumstances align,” managing director Robert Jawl told Capital Daily. Victoria’s YM-YWCA chief executive Derek Gent said the two entities “haven’t completely parted ways.”

“We’re still looking and defining what [YMCA] is going to be downtown.”

Options with Jawl, and extension at current location, being considered

YMCA continues to be in conversation with multiple parties about different spaces that could work for its future downtown operations. There’s currently about $8.4 million left in the bank that could be put towards a new facility, Gent said.

In 2018, YMCA sold its aging Broughton Street building to union-pension-backed Concert Properties for $22 million, secured a seven-year leaseback agreement expiring in 2025 and started looking for a new downtown location. Current zoning and development applications by Jawl Properties are flexible enough to accommodate a new YMCA facility should the two parties be able to strike a deal.

In the meantime, Concert Properties spokesperson John Corry said the company is open to working with the YMCA on a year-to-year basis regarding its lease at its Broughton location until the property is ready for redevelopment. There’s still no timeline on that yet, he said. The developer, which has built several buildings for YMCA in Vancouver, has waived YMCA’s rent for the Broughton Street building since the start of the pandemic.

Financial struggles recently hit boiling point in Westshore

Victoria’s YMCA has been financially struggling in recent years, incurring losses of around $10 million since March 2020. The effects of the pandemic halved their membership. In Langford, city council just approved an urgent request for increased funding by doubling its contribution to the YMCA-YWCA Westhills to the tune of $1.9 million a year.

Though the Westhills location serves two thirds of local Y members, it had been sustaining losses and was facing a deferred-rent bill from the facility owner. The YM-YWCA board decided in January that it would no longer use money from the downtown building sale to absorb losses in the Westshore, and threatened to leave the location as soon as this month if Langford did not boost funding.

Read more on the Westhills situation, and the conditions Langford put on its support, at The Westshore.

contact@capitaldaily.ca

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