Looking Ahead – Downtown Y Renewal
- Update #7 – March 2020
We are pleased to share with you that we have recently entered into a non-binding Letter of Intent with Jawl Properties to formally explore the feasibility of co-locating a new Y for downtown Victoria in their proposed commercial development at a site on the corner of Blanshard and View streets – currently the Capitol 6 Theatres. Some of the Y’s long-time members may recall that this proposed location is actually the former home of a Victoria YMCA, prior to the merging of the YMCA and YWCA in the 60’s at our current site. This announcement represents the culmination of a great deal of hard work by current and previous Board members, and our former CEO, Jennie Edgecombe. This is a very exciting opportunity for all involved.
Jawl Properties has deep roots in our community, and their reputation for professional excellence and for creating landmark projects is widely recognized and respected. They also share our values, which has been key in our criteria for decision making. This includes a commitment to building strong, healthy communities for people of all ages and abilities. Our goal is to realize a modern Y facility as part of a new legacy building that will shape Victoria’s future and we will continue to serve members and citizens as we have since 1875.
It is important to note that the Letter of Intent does not reflect a formal commitment to proceed, but does commit both parties to undertake the necessary due diligence to better understand the opportunity, and to prove out the financial viability for both the Y and Jawl Properties. This detailed review will take place over the next six months and will help inform and refine our mutual development goals. Assuming both parties are satisfied with the viability of this co-location tenancy, we will be an integral part of a redevelopment application process that Jawl Properties will make to the City of Victoria seeking approval to proceed.
All this to say, we are very pleased and excited about the potential here, and these are very early days in a much longer process.
In 2025, the Vancouver Island Y will celebrate 150 years of providing health, wellness, recreation and family services in our region. Our goal is to welcome the next phase in a modern landmark facility that meets the emerging needs of our growing and changing population in Victoria’s downtown.
There will be future opportunities to provide your input and ideas. While we are moving ahead with optimism, we along with Jawl Properties must be confident in the viability of this opportunity.
As we move forward through this process, we will continue to post updates on our website, in newsletters or signage in our downtown facility.
Please direct inquiries or questions to the email we established at Y2025@vancouverislandy.ca.
Thank you for sharing in this exciting news.
- Update #6 – July 2018
Downtown Y Update – Exciting News to Share!
As you know, with the support of Colliers, we have been exploring the future of the Downtown Y with the goal to ensure we continue to provide childcare, health and fitness services and programs for our members, participants and the community for the next 50 years in a new, modern facility. The Board reviewed several opportunities to remain on site at 851 Broughton and renovate in partnership with a developer, as well as options to sell the building and relocate with a development partner.
We are very pleased to announce that we have sold 851 Broughton to Concert Real Estate Corporation (Concert). The sale means that we can now engage with other development partners regarding a new Y location in the downtown core. The sale strengthens our ability to engage in the process of negotiating our relocation and allows us to remain in operation at our current location for up to 7 years. This is an ideal scenario. We can now shift our focus to planning for a new Downtown Y location. A new modern facility will ensure that the Y remains a relevant and integral part of the Victoria community for future generations.
What does this mean now and moving forward?
It is business as usual with our programs and services without interruption as we have a 7-year leaseback condition within the sale agreement.
As we move forward with our planning, we will be exploring how we deliver our programs and services, and we will also be exploring the potential for new services and programs to better serve our growing and evolving community. We also have sufficient time to develop an informed operations plan and transition plan.
This is an exciting time for all of us and we will be seeking input from our participants, members, employees and community partners to help inform our future plans over the coming years. We will be posting Frequently Asked Questions on our website and we have established a dedicated email address for your convenience: Y2025@vancouverislandy.ca
Congratulations to Concert and to all Y participants, members, employees and community partners! The Y is very proud to be part of the revitalization and renewal taking place across Victoria. Thank you for your support and enthusiasm. We will keep you posted with regular updates.
Have a fantastic summer!
- Update #5 – March 2018
As previously announced, the Y is actively exploring options for a new downtown Victoria YMCA – YWCA. The Y engaged Colliers International to help assess market opportunities and a request for proposals was issued at the end of August 2017. Round one resulted in some interesting possibilities and completed at the end of November. As part of the due diligence process and to ensure a thorough evaluation of our options had taken place, the Board asked Colliers to go back to the market for a second time in January 2018. Round two completed in February and a short list of proposals was selected for further review and evaluation. This process is underway and further updates will be provided over the next few months. This is an exciting time as the Y looks forward to its future in Victoria for the next 145 years.
- Update #4 – January 2018
As you know the Y is actively exploring options for a new downtown Victoria YMCA – YWCA. As previously announced, the Y engaged Colliers International to help assess market opportunities. Colliers issued a request for proposals at the end of August, and round one – which resulted in some interesting possibilities – completed at the end of November. The Board has asked Colliers to go back to the market for a second time in January as part of the due diligence process and a thorough evaluation of our options.This is to confirm the process for the downtown Victoria YMCA- YWCA property has not concluded as the YMCA-YWCA continues to explore all options to advance their goal of a new facility in the downtown core through;
- redevelopment partnership on the existing site
- sale of existing property, and partnership in a complementary development or
- sale of existing property and re-location in the downtown core
We expect to review offers and expressions of interest by Spring 2018 and we will provide informational updates as opportunities present themselves.
In 2015, a needs assessment was conducted which highlighted issues and opportunities as well as the progression of the Y’s role in the community. As the downtown community has continued to evolve and change since then, we will be sending a survey to program members next month to ensure we capture feedback and ideas on the social impacts and needs of a growing urban population.
This information will ensure the Y remains a relevant charity and the new facility serves as a catalyst to serve the changing needs of the community for the next 50 years. When the survey results are tabulated the Y will invite program members to review and discuss the findings.
- Update #3 – September 2017
The YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island has engaged Colliers International (Colliers) to explore potential opportunities for a new building with new facilities in the downtown core. As noted in our previous announcement, nothing changes for our staff or our members while Colliers identifies interested parties and brings forward options for our consideration. We anticipate that Colliers will present proposals to the Board for review by the end of the year. Proposals will outline opportunities for us to redevelop our facility as part of a larger development on our existing property, or, alternatively, a sale agreement that includes a viable relocation and new building opportunity in the downtown area.In the event we are successful in finding a redevelopment partner, the YMCA-YWCA will have a leaseback option for 5 years with a possible 5-year extension.
We are committed to keeping staff and members updated as we move forward.
- Update #2 – August 2017
The Victoria Y on Broughton Street is now 55 years old. For more than a decade, the Board has contemplated our aging facility and in 2012 and 2015, undertook a needs assessment and facilities study. That assessment highlighted both issues and opportunities as well as the progression of the Y’s role in our community. We know that we have exciting opportunities ahead. As we look to our future, we also know we have important factors to consider:
- Our current facilities are not completely accessible to people with disabilities and do not offer universal change rooms. As such, they do not reflect some of the key social values that define our community.
- We are fast-approaching the time when we must make some important and costly maintenance investments. Renovations will trigger very costly seismic upgrade requirements and our current space configuration is very inefficient.
In consideration of all of these factors, we have come to the realization that a new building with new facilities in the most desirable option.
- The YMCA-YWCA is committed to remaining in the Downtown core.
- We will continue business as usual at our current site for at least five years and possibly longer.
The YMCA-YWCA has engaged Colliers International to assist with the exploration of our opportunities. At this point, Colliers have prepared and will be releasing a Request for Proposals to potential interested parties. Nothing will change for our members while Colliers identifies interested parties and brings forward options for our consideration.
Potential proposals may allow us to redevelop our facility as part of a larger development on our existing property, or, alternatively, a sale agreement that includes a viable relocation and new building opportunity in the downtown area.
In the event we are successful in finding a redevelopment partner, the YMCA-YWCA will have a leaseback option for 5 years with a possible 5-year extension.
It is important to us that our staff and members receive regular updates as we move forward. We expect to receive offers and expressions of interest by the end of 2017 and we will ensure that we provide informational updates as opportunities present themselves.
- Update #1 – July 2017
As our Region has grown and changed, the Y has evolved to meet and strengthen the development of healthy communities.In 2016, we opened the Westhills Y in partnership with Westhills and the City of Langford delivering health, fitness and aquatic programs and childcare services. We also opened a satellite facility at Eagle Creek Village in View Royal focusing on a range of fitness programs and childcare services. It’s now time to explore the future of our primary location, the Downtown Victoria Y at 851 Broughton Street, where the Y has been in operation for the past 55 years.
The Board has contemplated the Downtown Y’s facilities. A facilities study and needs assessment were undertaken in 2012 and 2015 respectively which highlighted issues and opportunities as well as the progression of our role in the community. As we look to the future with a desire to remain relevant, viable and accessible to all citizens, we are considering our options in the downtown core.
The Y is a charity, and the not-for-profit organization owns the property and facilities at 851 Broughton. The Board believes that it is prudent now to formally explore the strong real estate market and seek out innovative partnerships and redevelopment opportunities to position the Y in downtown Victoria for generations to come.
What this looks like, we don’t know. We are simply letting everyone know that we are formally exploring future opportunities for the greater benefit of everyone. Our members, our volunteers, our employees and families of all ages who participate in our programs are our priorities in all future considerations.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do we need a new Y?
- The Victoria Y has had several different homes over the past 145 years.
- The YWCA has operated out of 7 downtown locations and the YMCA moved 4 times before the two organizations merged in 1961 and relocated into our present-day facility in 1965.
- Each move was motivated by changing needs as well as new opportunities in our ever-evolving community.
- We have operated out of our current location for over 55 years, and although the facilities are well-loved and a familiar space for our members, the building requires significant maintenance and renovations to meet the needs of our membership. These structural upgrades would also trigger costly seismic investments for the entire building.
- Our current facilities also do not reflect some of the key social values that define our community. For example, our facilities are not accessible to people with disabilities and we don’t have universal change rooms; Our current space configuration is also very inefficient.
- A new building with modern facilities is an exciting opportunity that will see a vibrant YMCA-YWCA in Victoria for another 50 years.
- Where will the new Y be located?
- We are committed to remaining in the downtown core as we have done for the past 145 years.
- The sale agreement allows us to remain where we are for up to seven years which is a comfortable timeframe.
- The sale strengthens our ability to seek out development partner opportunities and engage in the process of negotiating our relocation.
- It is an ideal scenario. We are able to invest in a modern new facility and remain in operation at our existing site until the construction of the facilities has completed.
- This transition is much more attractive than having to move out into temporary facilities and place some programs on hiatus for several years while our building was being redeveloped.
- Selling the building and relocating provide the greatest benefits to the Y, our participants, our employees and our families.
- What is the timeline?
- A condition of the sale allows us to remain where we are for up to 7 years so it’s business as usual while we seek out and select a new development partner in a new location.
- We have received some strong interest to date and now that we have a final sale, we can begin to engage with greater certainty.
- Will the new Y have all the same programs and services?
- Providing inclusive and accessible health and fitness and childcare programs to our participants and our community is our mandate.
- We undertook a ‘needs assessment’ in 2015 and from this we have devised a space plan requirement of 35,000 to 45,000 square feet. Our existing footprint is 62,000 square feet however approximately 30,000 square feet of this is office space and stairwells and basement which we are not using.
- We will be revisiting these findings over the coming years in consultation with our staff and participants.
- Our programs have evolved over our 145-year history to reflect the needs of the community.
- Being relevant, innovative and efficient with respect to our programing and our services for the next 50 years is an exciting opportunity.
- Will the new Y have more parking than is currently available?
- Parking will be addressed as part of our negotiations however we do not anticipate having more parking.
- Downtown Victoria is increasing becoming more densely populated and the City of Victoria is planning for a more urban environment with transportation networks that place less reliance on vehicle traffic.
- At the same time, new developments will likely include more publicly accessible parking within their projects.
- What is wrong with the existing Y?
- The existing Y is a well-loved and familiar space for our members. The facilities however are aging – they are 55 years old and they don’t meet the needs of all our members as they should.
- Our current facilities do not reflect some of the key social values that define our community. For example, our facilities are not all accessible to people with disabilities and we don’t have universal change rooms.
- We are fast approaching the time when we must make some important and costly maintenance investments. Renovations trigger very costly seismic upgrade requirements and our current space configuration is very inefficient.
- A new building with new facilities is the most desirable option.
- What is a universal change room?
A universal change room has private change and shower cubicles and can be used by anyone regardless of gender or age.It provides a change area for:
- Anyone with a disability who needs assistance
- People requiring a gender – neutral change area
- Anyone requiring a private cubicle
- Does this mean the Y will no longer have male and female change rooms?
- There will still be male and female change rooms, a universal change room will be provided in addition to male and female change rooms
- Can members or the community give suggestions regarding the redevelopment?
- We are happy to receive suggestions at any time, they can be sent via email
- Do you propose to keep all the program offerings in any new facility?
- These are early days. Being relevant, innovative and efficient with respect to our programming and our services is an exciting opportunity that we will embrace fully once we better understand what are options are.