Response to COVID-19
- Update - April 10
It has been a while since our last update message, and despite the signs of spring outside we are currently in the midst of another set of new restrictions brought on by the pandemic, including a temporary halt to all of our indoor fitness classes (except those in the pools) and expanded mask wearing protocols.
I would like to offer my profound thanks to our incredible team of volunteers and staff here who have been navigating these challenging conditions for over a year now, and to the many individuals and families who continue to maintain their memberships, following the rules at our facilities, accessing the services we have available, and making donations that support our ongoing programs. We are still regularly inspired by the stories of people who have returned to the Y and are living healthier, happier lives because of what we can provide. The kind wishes, cards and thank you messages are well received, and these keep us going. Volunteer week is coming up again later in April, and we will take that opportunity to continue celebrating the many contributions that help make our Y what it is.
As things improve and the vaccinations become more widespread, we look forward to welcoming more of you back and reconnecting in our communities. Please keep checking our website or the reservation app for new information or further changes. We plan to add outdoor sessions at both Westhills and Downtown starting Sunday – although class sizes will continue to be restricted by orders from the Health Authority.
The financial impact of COVID-19 on our organization has been significant, as it has with many local nonprofit organizations and businesses. Membership revenues have been slowly growing each month but are still far, far lower than pre-pandemic levels and well below what we will need for sustainable operations. The additional support and government subsidies have helped us to stay open, and we have reduced our costs as best we can without compromising service or safety. Weathering this upcoming period and bridging to our next phase are key priorities, as we also continue to plan for the future. There is still tremendous uncertainty, and we will need your help to preserve our resources and to mobilize new ones that can address the needs of our communities through our Y.
As we look forward to summer this year, Camp Thunderbird is on the minds of many kids in our region, and their parents. Unfortunately, at this point we are not expecting to host overnight camping in cabins and can accommodate only day camp and leadership development experiences with participation levels constrained by distancing requirements and transportation logistics. This being said, we hope to triple the number of campers from last year and offer an essential escape from the pandemic stresses that have had such a negative impact on so many young people. We are actively seeking donations that will help us deliver an experience that builds the confidence and fundamentally enhances the growth and development of children during the summer months. Click here to donate today.
2021 is a watershed year for our Y, and for our communities. We are tired, and daunted from the challenges we have faced, and yet we are excited and hopeful about how we will come together when the conditions allow us to do so. Your patience and support are greatly appreciated, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
- Update - December 18
2020 is nearing an end, and while we are still in the throes of many restrictions on our Y activities here (and even how we can gather with friends and families in our communities over the holidays) there is some renewed hope for 2021. The first generation of Covid-19 vaccines are now being actively delivered, several government programs and subsidies have been extended, and for the most part people are following the rules that will allow us to continue keeping infection rates on a decline. I want to thank everyone for your patience, commitment, and caring for each other. Our members, staff and volunteers have all stepped up in making the best of a very challenging time.
We are very pleased to announce that several of our low intensity group fitness classes will resume again on Monday, December 21. Please check our Y website and the reservation app for more details on the updated guidelines for these activities, and to see our new protocols in place. We know many of you have missed attending these classes (our instructors have really missed offering them) and rest assured that we have put in place protections to keep you safe while you stay healthy.
Efforts are ongoing to adapt our programming based on respect for the guidelines in place and offering as many options and services as possible. The Y website is your best source of information on what we have available and I encourage you to keep checking in as we move toward our “next normal” with more to be scheduled over time.
In other good news, we recently held our virtual grand reveal event for the Herowork radical renovation at our Y Young Moms program, with two additional housing units now opened, and with families moving in before Christmas. What a difference for these moms and their children to have brand new renovated apartments of their own for the holidays. Boxes filled with presents and necessities were also put together and presented from students at St. Michaels University School, for each of the tenant families at Young Moms and the individuals (many of whom are high school students themselves) at Pandora Apartments.
2021 will be another challenging year, with some difficult times and more changes undoubtedly ahead for our Y and for the communities we serve. I know that we will rise to the opportunities, and that working together we will become stronger and healthier. Our staff and volunteers look forward to seeing you back at our Westhills or Downtown locations when you are ready, and we encourage you to bring others along, especially as our “distancing” requirements are reduced. The Eagle Creek Y remains closed at this time and we will provide more information as any decisions are made.
The effects of this pandemic will be felt for some time, and for some families and organizations, the impacts are permanent. We mourn the losses and recognize the extent to which many individuals and families who were already marginalized have been further disadvantaged and isolated by crisis this year. We are proud to have continued providing services and support, and I am personally inspired by stories of people making great efforts to stay healthy and to make our communities stronger by participating with us or helping others. This is why our Y exists.
Please keep connected with us and stay tuned for more updates. With our AGM last week, the Annual Report is also now available now on our website.
For those that can afford a financial contribution, and with profound thanks to all who have given this year, we ask you to consider a gift to our Y this holiday season. You can check out our virtual giving tree at the link below, or just make a tax deductible donation for us to apply to the area of greatest need.
We also accept gifts of publicly traded stocks or securities, and based on market valuations being up right now, you could achieve a significant tax break for 2020, with benefits flowing to our Y. Contact us or talk to your financial advisor for more details.
- Update - November 20 - 11:00am
The Y will be implementing all required BC Health Orders effective immediately. Review the Know Before You Go pages for detailed updates.
Read the province-wide restrictions here.
Thank you in advance for your assistance, patience and kindness with staff, volunteers and each other. We are in this together.
- October 30, 2020
The season is shifting here, as we move to colder weather and shorter days, and with all of us continuing to navigate the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19. The response from our communities here on Vancouver Island has been inspiring, in terms of the willingness to step up, make sacrifices and follow the guidance of our own Dr. Bonnie Henry in keeping transmission levels low. Thank you.
In response to guidance this week from Dr. Henry, and increased expectations around the wearing of masks in public spaces, we have added signage to our health and fitness facilities encouraging the use of non-medical masks when individuals are not able to maintain 6 ft distances. For members, we’re asking you to consider masking up when entering our facilities and when moving between areas where you can safely engage in your physically distanced activities. Wearing a mask while engaged in physical activity is not recommended. Staff will be wearing masks, except when working in physically distanced areas or engaged in physical activities themselves.
We greatly appreciate your consideration of this new recommendation (note that we’re not at the level of a mandated public health order for members at this stage) and we kindly ask for your participation.
Returning membership is growing at both our Westhills and Downtown locations but is still very low compared to our pre-pandemic levels. We would love to see more people coming back to the Y, for their health and for ours, and we ask you to share your positive experiences here to encourage others.
Our systems are regularly monitored and adapted to serve you better and more efficiently, as conditions allow and as people’s schedules start incorporating more visits to the Y. Personal coaching is now available again, private swim lessons have started, and our Home Alone and Babysitting Courses are available for registration.
Opening our change rooms last month was very well received (a reminder they are only available after your workout), our classes are getting fuller, and we are very pleased with how members have been respectfully honoring the rules while still managing to enjoy each others’ company.
In our childcare centres, social housing initiatives and community health programs, we are continuing to deliver essential services in our communities, and we greatly appreciate the kind and generous donations that keep coming in.
Starting in January, we’re planning for a new Y Outdoor School program up at Camp Thunderbird, as a supplement to home or online teacher-supported learning, delivered outside the classroom. Placing children in nature, with ‘forest school’ inspired programming and a community of their peers provides a safe and nurturing environment for their learning and development, with a lot of fun.
Last week, when the school districts had a PD day, our scheduled family swim at Westhills was almost fully booked, and while still distanced, the pool had more people in it than we’ve had since our closure. The sounds of kids playing and energy in the place had us all motivated and looking positively into a future where we find ways to come back together.
Please take care and stay safe. Check out our website or reservation app for other updates and information. You can also access Registration Services by telephone 250-386-7511 (Monday to Friday – 8:30am to 3:00pm) or by email at email@example.com.
- Fall Update - September 4, 2020
Showers & Changerooms Opening Soon
We are very pleased to report that based on the work our team has done to develop new protocols with the local Health Authority, we will be ready to open limited access to our changerooms and showers starting Wednesday September 9th at the Westhills Y. Up to 14 spaces in each of the Men’s and Women’s changerooms, and 13 Universal spaces will be made available on a first come, first serve basis.These can be used only AFTER the completion of your workout, swim, or class, not before.
We also expect changerooms to be made available at our Downtown location sometime mid-month. This will not include “Plus” amenities, such as the sauna, steam or towel service, and we will be encouraging members to try keep their usage under 10 minutes at each location so that we can allow as many people as possible.
For more details visit the Know Before you Go pages:
In most years, summer is a less busy time at the Y. We applaud those of you staying active and healthy by getting outside and engaging in activities while respecting the importance of physical distancing, handwashing, and staying home when you are ill.
Since re-opening in July of this year, we’re continuing to see a slow and steady growth in our membership returning, though it’s still just a fraction of the usage prior to our closure. Many of you have shared your stories of how much it’s meant to you having the Y open again, and our staff and volunteers comment daily about the pride and excitement they feel from serving and connecting with you in this unique and still changing context that we’re in.
Unfortunately, our Eagle Creek facility remains closed for the time being, and we will continue to monitor the conditions related to possible re-opening at some point.
As the season changes, and we continue to adapt our offerings to serve you better while keeping everyone safe and healthy, we ask that you consider encouraging others to join you. The new VIY app and online booking system is working well, and many people are even saying it’s an enhanced experience with the additional space and less competition for equipment. We appreciate and thank you for the patience shown toward our staff team if you were a member who experienced challenges with the new app.
Private swimming lessons registration for members is now open! Click here to Register! The Y team is also working on offering personal coaching before the end of September.
Our thanks to the many individuals and funders who have continued to support our organization during this challenging time. Contributions to the Y’s housing initiatives at Young Moms’ and Pandora Youth Apartments have ensured our ongoing capacity for this work, two of our Childcare Centres are operating, the Mindfulness and Healthy Living programs have continued for youth and seniors, and Camp Thunderbird just wrapped up another successful season, albeit much smaller than other years. We’re also currently exploring some additional outdoor program ideas for kids up at Camp this fall.
This fall we hope you will consider making a charitable contribution to one of our on-going campaigns.
- Now Open - July 24
Our Westhills Y and Downtown Y locations are now open!
It has been incredibly heartening to welcome back members to our facilities this past week, and to watch kids in the pool or coming back from Camp Thunderbird each day! We have heard many stories from members sharing their gratitude with inspiring examples of how their physical and mental health is already improving.
Getting back on the machines, into our pool, or joining a class with others that you’ve missed is really good for you. Our community is getting stronger, and our Y is part of the next normal. As conditions change, we will continue to adapt.
Staff here have done a tremendous job in preparing the facilities and delivering programs with the safety and service to our members remaining top priority. It’s a different experience for sure, and the new technology had presented some initial challenges as we ramped up (we appreciate your patience), but we’re hearing that the Y experience is still a fabulous one and there is plenty of room for more to participate.
For those that have come back – we thank you and ask that you let others know what it’s like.
For those who are thinking about it, we encourage you join us!
As a reminder, we encourage everyone to familiarize yourselves with the know before you go sections of our website, and coming soon will be a virtual tour so you can see how we’ve made the spaces safe for you. The spacing of our equipment and classes allows for safe and comfortable access while still feeling like the Y. Still no change rooms, showers, steam, sauna, hot tubs or courts, but plenty of ways to access the Y and improve your health together with others.
To join, you the first step is to purchase your new Y membership online (or by telephone for those without internet access) using our Online Service Portal. As a reminder all memberships active at the time the Y closed in March have been cancelled. A credit has been placed on the payer’s account. Note that the payer may have credit for more than one member if they paid for multiple memberships or as part of a family. When you purchase your new membership, this credit will be used toward your initial payment, and for those not ready to return yet, the credit will remain on your account.
After purchasing a new Y membership you can then download the new VIY app to a smartphone or tablet, and start reserving times at your preferred location up to 48 hours in advance. If you have not purchased a new Y membership you will be unable to use the app properly.
For all of the details on how to use the app, make reservations and what to do if you do not have a mobile device, click here!
Need some additional assistance?
Your Y has limited staff and building access for this initial phase of re-opening. This means that unfortunately the Y will not be open for in person sales & requests. We can help you with the process, and membership sales over the phone are available for those paying with a credit card. At this time, we are unable to accept any other payment methods.
Contact by Phone – 250-386-7511
Monday – Friday
8:30am – 1:30pm
Contact by Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- We're Ready - Reopening July 16We are excited to welcome you to the Downtown Y and Westhills Y with bookings available starting on Thursday July 16th.It’s been a long wait for many of us, but our staff are trained up for the new protocols and processes we’ve put in place, and our facilities are clean, safe and ready for you to come back. There will be some differences, including more limited access (as examples: no change rooms, showers, steam, sauna or hottubs, and a requirement for reservations with each visit), but we can assure you of smiling faces and welcoming support from our staff team. Please note, some areas that are re-opening will be delayed until next week.We greatly appreciate your patience and encourage you to familiarize yourself with the new rules and process at each facility by checking out the know before you go sections of our website. We have done everything possible to ensure we’re meeting the highest standards for hygiene and safety, and we have modified our facility and programs to facilitate safe physical distancing practices that protect the health of our communities. The stakes are high, and we’re confident that we’re doing the right things.As outlined in the last update, your previous membership has been stopped as of March 17th. Starting today, online membership sales have re-opened and you can purchase your new membership by clicking here. All members with an active membership at the time the Y closed in March have received a credit to the payer’s account. Note that the payer may have credit for more than one member if they paid for multiple memberships or as part of a family. When you purchase your new membership, the credit will be used toward your initial payment.We encourage you to show your support and rejoin your Island Y!The new YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island app is also here! Using our new app you can make your required reservation to the Downtown or Westhills Y in just a couple of simple steps. Remember you can no longer just drop in to access the Y. The app works with a smartphone, tablet or iPad. Reservations can be made 48 hours in advance.Limited children and family programs will be available by reservation through the Calendar on our Online Service Portal. These bookings are not currently available through the new VIY app.For all of the details on how to use the app, make reservations and what to do if you do not have a mobile device, click here!Need some additional assistance?Your Y has limited staff and building access for this initial phase of re-opening. This means that unfortunately the Y will not be open for in person sales, requests, cancellations etc. Limited phone-in hours begin on Tuesday July 14. We can help you with the process, and membership sales over the phone are available for those paying with a credit card. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept any other payment methods at this time.Contact by Phone – 250-386-7511Monday – Friday8:30am – 1:30pmContact by Email – email@example.comThank you for your consideration in a decision to purchase a membership and rejoin us. The Vancouver Island Y has been an important part of our communities here for 145 years, and we look forward to this next phase in our continued evolution. We really want you to be a part of it.
- Targeted Re-Opening July 16
Our team here has been working incredibly hard to prepare for our re-opening, and we are excited to announce that we are targeting our Downtown and Westhills facilities to be ready for you to return on July 16th!
Please know that we are doing everything we can to ensure that our operations will be safe, healthy and comfortable as we move carefully into this next phase. The health and well-being of our communities is why the Y exists and this drives our priorities.
There are some changes, for certain. Our new requirements are driven by guidelines from the local Health Authority and WorkSafeBC, and we have made great efforts to make several different programs and areas of the building available. We want to try and accommodate the many ways that members enjoy their time here and maintain their health. Unfortunately, some areas and programs, including our Eagle Creek location, will not be opening at this time.
Each visit will be limited to a specific activity during a scheduled period, and disappointingly there will be fewer opportunities for socializing and just spending time at the Y. As examples, our lobbies, change rooms, steam and sauna, and the racquet courts will all be closed, and showers are reserved for those using the pool.
For more details on the specific programming available, as well as our enhanced cleaning and usage protocols and the new system for making reservations, please click here.
Given the changes in our operations, and due to the difficult financial situation that we face with the new more limited capacity, and after several months of lost revenues, we are announcing changes to the Y’s membership and fee structure.
A single category of Y membership will be available, for individuals and for families to access our open facilities and programs.
Click here for more detail on the new Y membership.
All members who made a March membership payment, or those who purchased an annual membership, will receive a pro-rated credit on their account based on the remaining days in their membership when we closed on March 17th. These credits will be available toward payment of a new purchase or will remain on your account on an indefinite basis.
When you choose to return, the credit will be applied toward a membership starting at that time.
Online sales for the new Y Membership will begin on July 14th, at which time you can download a new smartphone app and start booking reservations for times to access the Y as of July 16th. Time slots for activities or programs can be booked up to 48 hours in advance and will be limited to one per day.
For those ready to return as soon as possible, in order to help us expedite faster processing of account credits and your membership purchase, it would be very helpful to let us know your intention to return ahead of time by clicking here.
We would like to ask you to consider starting your membership in July, even if you are not feeling ready to come back to visit our facilities until later. In staying with us and committing to your YMCA-YWCA membership, proudly saying “I belong to the Y!”, you reinforce that participation here is different, and important in more ways than your own individual health. Your support helps us continue strengthening our community, as we have since 1875, and it ensures that we’ll be here when you are ready to return.
Additional donations can be made, in support of the many individuals who may require financial assistance to participate, with charitable tax receipts available. To make a donation today click here.
Many of our staff will be coming back over the next couple of weeks and will be engaged in training and safety procedures to meet our new and higher standards for operating in this adapted environment. We are excited for our “next normal” here. While remaining cautious and careful, we are all looking forward to seeing you and serving you as we all become healthier and more connected again.
Check back here for regular updates as we get closer to the opening date and as conditions change.
We will send out another notice as we get closer to the opening date, and please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions or concerns.
- Y Member & Community Supporter Update - June 12
It’s been over 12 weeks since we last saw you in person at one of our facilities, and in that time the world has changed. It has been a tremendously challenging time for many in our communities, and we’ve seen some wonderful examples of people coming together to support and care for each other, while continuing to follow the advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry and our local health authorities to stay safe.
The recent protests and events south of our border are also offering us an opportunity to reflect more deeply on the systemic racism that still exists in our own communities and what we can be doing differently as individuals or through our organization.
We’ve heard from many members, volunteers and staff that they’re missing their routines, but even more so missing their friends and connections at our Y. Our thanks for participating in the recent survey. This was essential information. We miss you too.
Even though our doors have been closed, we’ve continued to serve our local communities in many ways. Y Young Moms, whose building is under renovation right now with Herowork, and Pandora Youth Apartments downtown, have been continuing to provide support and housing for vulnerable young people. Our thanks to the many donors and funders who have stepped up to help us continue providing these services and more during this challenging time.
Many of you have been staying active by getting outside or self-organizing workouts within your own bubble. Our online programs, have been providing an outlet for some, including different opportunities for your body, mind and spirit, but we know it’s not the same.
We know you’re wondering when you too can return to your Y. We’re getting ready!
Some of you may have heard that our Child Care Centres at the Westhills and Downtown locations are planning to open July 2, and we are opening registration next week for summer day camps at Camp Thunderbird that will start the week of July 20th. Camp is only happening this year because of very significant financial support that came from our community when we reached out recently. The generosity, and commitment to supporting the health and well-being of our children here is an inspiration. We are incredibly thankful on behalf of the kids (and their parents, and our staff) who will be able to experience at least some version of the magic that occurs up in the Sooke Hills each year, as it has since 1935.
We’re working to set a time in mid to late July for re-opening modified versions of our fitness and aquatic facilities at the two locations as well. Based on our current capacity and expectations we are not likely to open our Eagle Creek location before the fall and will look to provide opportunities for employees and members to return earlier at the other sites.
Specific opening dates have not yet been set, but we are very hard at work putting together the procedures, processes, programming, and staffing plans to ensure a safe and healthy environment. We want you to experience the caring level of service and sense of belonging that you have come to expect from our Y, albeit under new conditions.
Our guidelines are based on input from health experts, local officials and both our YMCA and YWCA networks to ensure that our facilities meet the highest standards for hygiene and safety. It will be different, but it will be awesome!
We look forward to sharing the details and our dates for re-opening as soon as they are established. Until then, take care, keep active, and stay tuned to our website.
- Registered Child Care Update & Survey - May 26
With the recent lifting of our closure order from the Provincial Health Authority as of May 19th, we have been focusing our efforts to develop plans for safely re-opening our Health, Fitness and Aquatic Centres, and our Childcare Centres.
There are many complex elements that we need to address to meet the safety requirements that have been set out, in order to ensure your health and comfort as members, and still be able to operate without compromising our longer term sustainability.
Please complete this online survey before June 2, 2020 to the best of your ability. We appreciate your participation.
- Registered Child Care Update & Survey - May 26
I hope that you, your friends, and your families are all doing well under the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am writing to you today to update you on the Y’s plans regarding the re-opening of our child care services, and to ask for your input as we make our next decisions.
We look forward to welcoming you back to our child care program – but at this point we do not have a definitive re-launch date. It will be a challenging path to the “next normal”.
The decision to close our Y Child Care Centres was very difficult. The potential for further transmission of this virus, while significantly mitigated by the health authority recommendations for safe operation of licensed child care facilities, is still a factor. The safety of all concerned remains the top priority in the Y’s decision-making process.
That being said, good planning and a strong sense of responsibility in our community has resulted in the Greater Victoria area enjoying a comparatively low incidence of COVID-19. Thank you for your role in that outcome.
The Government of BC has announced a phased approach to reopening the economy, and access to child care is one of the key enablers in that process. To that end, we are reviewing all of the operational recommendations and restrictions issued and promoted by WSBC, MCFD and Child Care Facilities Licensing as we explore once again offering child care services.
There are many steps to be followed to ensure that we will be able to safely deliver child care services, in a sustainable way. Please know that we will be adhering to all health and safety recommendations released by health officials, and we are further supported by best practices being developed among YMCA’s and YWCA’s from across Canada.
We will continue to work on these plans, but at this point we need your help! Every family faces their own unique circumstances which will influence their choices. We need to determine what you, the Y Child Care families, will require in the next while in terms of child care services.
A online survey is available until Monday June 1 at 5:00pm. If your family is currently registered in a Y Child Care centre and did not receive an email with the survey link please email us as soon as possible.
Our re-opening process will be determined by the results of this survey, as well as by the Y’s ability to re-start operations, in a sustainable manner, in the midst of this ever-evolving pandemic.
We appreciate your participation in the survey. It will be open until Monday, June 1st at 5:00pm.
- Y Member & Community Supporter Update - May 14 - 2:00pm
We know many of you are really looking forward to returning – we are looking forward to seeing you.
We won’t be opening our doors until it’s safe to do so and we have the all-clear from public health authorities and our government.
You have likely heard about the BC Government’s Re Start Plan, including more specific details on the proposed phases for reopening elements of the economy and resuming certain activities in our Province. We are hard at work here, together with other YMCA’s , YWCA’s and similar service providers in our region to develop new plans and protocols that will help keep you safe when we can eventually welcome you back.
There are a few things we would like to communicate at this point.
In terms of our priorities, we are focused on people first. We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of members, volunteers and staff, as well as the overall health of our communities. We will base any decisions on the best available evidence and advice from respected sources, while always staying true to our values and striving to do the right thing.
Your Y will look and feel different when you come back. Additional safeguards will be in place, some equipment or areas may not be available right away, and the ways that you use or access our facilities may be different. Some things will be exactly as you remember them, including the welcoming smiles from our volunteers and staff, our attention to quality and service, and experiencing a sense of community that has been latent in your absence. Some things may even be better – like seeing an old friend or family member after some time away, or the thrill of meeting somebody for the first time.
Thank you for your patience. Many details are still emerging, in terms of specific operating limitations and developing best practices in consultation with others. We also recognize that conditions can change quickly, and we will need to respond to what is happening at a given point in time in our region. The learning and listening and innovation that will be necessary for success is a shared obligation between our organization and you as a member. This is a new experience for all of us and we promise to do our best.
We’re excited, and we’re cautious. The risks of opening too early, or not taking enough steps to ensure that our Y is operating safely, far outweigh the costs of waiting and doing things right. Stay tuned for more updates, in future e-mails we send along and on our website.
Thank you for your support. Many of you have stepped up during this challenging time, providing financial contributions directly to the Y, or through other channels who support us such as the Rapid Relief Fund or Herowork. As a charity, we have continued providing services at Y Young Moms and Pandora Youth Apartments, as well as online programming toward mental health outcomes for youth through Y Mind. Your ongoing support has made a tremendous difference, and your commitment to our Y will help us survive this period so we can remain a part of your community for many years to come.
My great admiration and respect goes out to the many hardworking folks we have here that will ensure a smooth opening for you, and I greatly look forward to seeing you soon – when we’re ready.
Take care, enjoy the upcoming long weekend, and please continue to follow the directions from our health authority to keep us all safe.
- Y Member & Community Supporter Update - May 6 - 2:00pm
The only one swimming in the pool these days has been Sonny, our office dog, who has been thrilled to take a dip as part of a regular mental health break for those of us still working.Together with members of our maintenance crew, he’s helping make sure that things will be in perfect working order, safe and clean for when we’re able to welcome folks back to the Y.
As we start to think more about what re-opening will look like, we’re drawing on the many lessons from our own experience in opening new facilities, and the vast experience of our many sister organizations in the YMCA and YWCA movements. Despite all this knowledge, we also realize that operating a Y when COVID-19 transmission is still a risk will be significantly different. We’ve been using the term “next normal.”
As exciting as it is to see the progress happening as a result of everyone’s commitment to physical distancing and staying home for the past couple of months, we know that our return will be slow, careful, and require different ways of doing things. Stay tuned for more updates as we learn more about plans for phased operations, likely starting with childcare, and to be based on directives from the local Health Authority.
Our furloughed staff have been staying in touch with us, sharing examples of how they continue to keep active, engage in the community, and struggle with the challenges right now. The government and community supports available have provided some relief, and we recently recalled some staff using the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, but we will all feel much better when the Y can generate revenues again and start bringing people back with paid work available. Our many volunteers have also shared their anticipation of returning. It will be different, and it won’t be easy, but it will be good.
Quick inspiring story from one of our members. An individual living with MS, who had been participating in the Neuro Fit program to build their strength and independence, was regularly working with Jasmine from our Y before we had closed. Since mid-March, this member has been continuing to do the exercises on her own, and recently became healthy enough to significantly shift the level of support they receive from their partner and from a home care nurse they have engaged. Jasmine shared a quote from a recent conversation, where the proudly frustrated member said, “either the nurse needs to change her expectations of me and what I need from her, or I need a new nurse! I will not be going back to who I was ever again!”
Below are a few things below you can do in the next while to help support our Y and stay engaged in the community.
Coast Capital Savings has initiated a Mothers’ Day campaign where each message posted on their Facebook page about motherhood will result in a $5 contribution to our Y for the Young Moms program – up to $2500. We’re incredibly grateful for all the support that the Y receives from Coast Capital.
You can also celebrate Mothers’ Day by signing up as volunteer for the Herowork renovation or making a direct contribution toward our Young Mom’s program. Check out the work happening at our site as they complete the demolition and get ready for the next phase.
Volunteers at Y Young Moms Herowork Renovation – a living YMCA sign!
Finally, I include a clip from a recent story on CHEK news. Luke Ferris, who leads our Camp and Outdoor Centre, was interviewed about the recent sad decision to cancel our regular programming this summer up at at Camp Thunderbird. It’s a stark reminder about the impact this pandemic is having on the lives of young people that we support and how valued our Y is in this community.
As Dr. Bonnie Henry reminds us, please keep safe and healthy, be kind and take care of each other. See you soon.
- Y Member & Community Supporter Update - April 24 - 1:00pm
April showers returned this week in our region, greening things up a bit and offering hope for more blooms and eventual re-openings. We’re definitely still experiencing a storm here, and the realities in other communities including the recent Nova Scotia tragedy, have most of us huddled and tucked in.
Life at the Y is quiet, but busy. Our recent decision to formally cancel the scheduled programming at Camp Thunderbird this summer is weighing heavy. Many campers are disappointed, and our team of young staff and volunteers are looking at a very different summer this year, with their energies to be refocused elsewhere. The new opportunities recently announced for young people to serve and to receive support from the Federal Government during the pandemic are encouraging.
While timelines are still uncertain, we’re also starting to pivot more towards thinking about what things may look like here as we come back. It will undoubtedly be different. Until a vaccine exists for COVID-19, we’re likely to be operating in a context of increased spacing and with a new set of expectations for how we operate.
We’re also very conscious that despite the ongoing financial hardship to our Y, the risk of fully opening too early is significantly larger than the risks from staying closed.
Nonetheless, we’re hopeful. Redefining the Y is not new. We have been through many changes before, and our resilience and relevance will endure. We are still totally excited about seeing you again.
There are a few examples included below with things to do in the meantime, opportunities to contribute and ways to stay connected:
Drop off your UNOPENED hygiene products (toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, hand sanitizer) at one of three locations set up this weekend. More details on Facebook
Participate in the final Virtual Trunk Show for Harris Kuipers happening on Zoom on April 30 at 4:30pm Vancouver / 5:30pm Calgary / 7:30pm Toronto. You can also shop online anytime, with proceeds from sales going to support our organization and the YWCA in Calgary through HK Gives
Consider a donation to our ongoing programs – Y Young Moms, Pandora Youth Apartments or the Y-Mind mental health initiative, – or you can help support some essential building improvements at Camp Thunderbird that we’d like to do while it’s closed right now.
These contributions make a huge difference, and it feels really good when you make one. I promise.
Our thanks to all of you who continue to contribute toward our work and stay connected with us. We hope to see you again soon. Say safe, stay healthy and take care of others.
- Y Camp Thunderbird Update - April 23 - 3:00pm
Dear Camp Thunderbird Families,
I’m writing to you with some unfortunate but necessary news. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the normal Camp Thunderbird summer programs, for 2020. We believe this is the socially responsible thing to do and do not take this measure lightly. We know how disappointing this news will be, for the 1300+ campers who were looking forward to playing, learning, and growing in the forest at Glinz Lake in July and August. The health of our campers, staff, volunteers and the broader community members is always our priority.
In making this decision, we are following the advice of public health agencies (in particular the updates from Dr. Bonnie Henry), and continue to pay close attention to the evolving situation. The advice continues to recommend avoiding large group events. Camp, as we know it, is a large gathering of people with tremendous risk for COVID-19 transmission. We strongly believe that at the core of any successful camp operation is an approach to risk management that is solidly grounded in facts. To summarize, the decision to not operate our summer programs as planned stems from the known challenges and issues of COVID-19, and the complex planning and training requirements of a safe summer camp program.
Looking forward, we will continue to discuss and consider other possible ways to support our camp families and the broader community. We’ll be in touch with you if/when we have other programs and services to offer that we think will be a good fit for you. Please check back here for updates.
In terms of refunds, we will be returning 100% of payments received to date, and we will also be cancelling any future, scheduled payments.
A note from our Registration Services Team
At the time of processing all fees paid will be refunded. Refunds will be placed back to the payer’s credit card used to make payment or, in instances where the credit card on file is expired or no longer valid a refund by cheque will be mailed to the address on file. If your camper was registered for more than one camp program (and/or transportation) refunds will be applied in more than one transaction. Please note, due to staffing levels and restrictions placed by our payment processor refund processing may be delayed and might take up to 3 weeks. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this unprecedented time.
To view the status of your refund please log into your Online Service Portal account, click My Account and then List of Account Payments. When your refund has been processed you will see it listed here. This may take some time. Please note that due to reduced staffing levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Y is not able to receive telephone inquiries at this time. If you require assistance, please email Registration Services
A final thought – the YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island is a registered charity, and as a result Camp Thunderbird receives significant financial assistance to operate in any given year. This pandemic has been financially devastating for our organisation, and we’re doing everything we can to remain viable. I’ve been a part of this Y since 1994 and have never seen anything like this.
I sincerely hope that community members can stand behind Camp Thunderbird and the Y in support of us providing programs and services in 2021 and beyond. Please consider a donation to support our future. Make a donation now via your account on the Y Online Service Portal, YMCA Canada or contact me for assistance.
Be well. Take care of yourselves and those around you.
- Y Member & Community Supporter Update - April 17 - 1:30pm
April 19, 2020 marks the start of National Volunteer Week
While most of our facilities are currently closed, the volunteer spirit is alive and well in our community. We are pleased to celebrate this essential service in its many forms.
Volunteers have been an integral part of the Y since we started. While many who contribute here tell us that they may get more than they receive, we know that the experience they help create for our members and those we support is a clear reflection of who we are. This is what community looks like.
As a great example, I know that a recently furloughed member of our staff team from the Downtown Y has been volunteering their time cooking meals at the Y Young Moms program.
Please check out the link to more stories of our volunteers. We all miss seeing them here at the Y.
Some other updates and opportunities
Reminder that while we remain closed, we will not be withdrawing your monthly membership fee. All memberships are on hold. Once we have an idea of an opening date, information will be sent out, and we will begin our ramping up to operations as soon as it is safe to do so. Your fees will resume automatically once we have to re-opened the doors.
Practice Swim Lesson Skills at Home
Our friends at the Wood River Y have some practice tips for toddlers and preschoolers. Learn More…
Virtual 5k Run
The Oshkosh Y is hosting a QuaRUNtine to 5K: Virtual 5K Training & Race on Facebook
An initiative of Harris Kuipers, an online clothing business co-owned by Victoria artist Laura Harris and Calgary entrepreneur Shelly Kuipers that have chosen to support our organization, together with the YWCA in Calgary, as a recipient of funding from their upcoming “Trunk Sales.” Our thanks and appreciation for living their values through their business. Find out more on Facebook
Our further thanks to the many individuals and organizations that continue to make donations to the Y. These contributions help ensure that the Y we come back to is as awesome as the one we left, and that the programs we continue to operate are helping those vulnerable individuals and families we support.
To close with sage advice from Dr. Bonnie Henry, we need to be kind, we need to be calm, to help each other and stay safe.
- Y Member & Community Supporter Update - April 9 - 5:30pm
We still miss you terribly. Next Tuesday will mark a month since our health & fitness and childcare facilities were closed.
This morning a few of us participated in a Zoom meeting with Y leaders from around the world. It was heartening to see and hear from so many individuals facing the challenges of this pandemic in different communities. We were inspired by the reaction and mobilization from organizations that are serving our most vulnerable, and we commiserated with those who are not able to provide the support and services that keep our members and communities healthy. Many Y’s are facing similar financial challenges given that a majority of our revenues stopped when we closed, and many members from around the world are sharing your experience.
We are reminded that most Y’s were born of crisis. When our Y was first formed in 1875, we served a need in our community. First for young men, and shortly thereafter for young women, the Y represented a hand up, a place to stay, and a connection to people and activities that improved their health while making the community stronger. We have shown our resilience over the past 145 years (through wars, and even pandemics) by responding to the changing needs here and expanding our services. We will weather this current crisis and continue to redefine ourselves based on the same values of caring, respect, honesty, responsibility and inclusion.
The triangles in our logo reflect a balanced and healthy life. Three lines represent Body, Mind and Spirit. While the Y is decidedly non-denominational, we still promote this balance and respect the many ways that people can achieve it. As we move into a time of various religious holidays, with Easter, Passover and Ramadan among them, we encourage you to practice with distanced and virtual alternatives as we have in our physical and mental health offerings. We will soon be all back together, and our sacrifices will be worth it.
A couple of updates and opportunities.
Through our relationship with Herowork (who are scheduled to renovate our Y Young Moms building after the pandemic subsides) we learned that they have helped source more than 600 tents for the temporary shelter spaces being created in local parks. The organizers at Topaz Park, (Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness) are seeking volunteers to support this effort and we wanted to share the link for healthy individuals to help out and give back.
We have heard from many of you who have been accessing our online sessions, and encourage you to check out our website for programs and activities for various ages and abilities, including physical and mental health. Starting Tuesday there will be daily updates in each category. You may also want to check out the Y USA’s Y 360 online offerings, or link to Y’s around the planet through the World YMCA or World YWCA
Our housing initiatives, Y Young Moms and Pandora Youth Apartments, continue to operate and we need additional support. The participants, and past participants are facing significant challenges due to the social isolation and limited access to healthy food that is compounded by the physical distancing requirements in place.
Please take care of yourselves, and each other, and stay healthy.
- Y Member & Community Supporter Update - April 1We have no April Fools jokes here today. Unfortunately the current situation is such that we’re all seeking normalcy rather than distractions from our usual expectations.As promised, we’re working to stay in touch with you remotely, and look forward to the time when we’re all back together at the Y. Just as with other local organizations in our communities, many of our staff have been temporarily laid off from work during this ongoing closure. We’re working to help ensure that additional government supports available can be accessed during this period, and that we are all ready to return without having our physical, emotional or financial health affected too negatively.A reminder about your fees, and a couple opportunities to join our efforts to stay active and to help support each other.
While we remain closed, we will not be withdrawing your monthly membership fee. All memberships are on hold. Once we have an idea of an opening date, information will be sent out, and we will begin our ramping up to operations as soon as it is safe to do so. Your fees will resume automatically once we have re-opened the doors.
Virtual Y Fitness ChallengeThe YMCA of Central Ohio has invited us to participate in their Stay Healthy – Y 600 Fitness Challenge, currently running and ends on April 23rd. Click here to get more information and to join the Vancouver Island Team. Should be fun!
Y’s Young Moms and Pandora Youth ApartmentsThese community health programs continue to operate through these challenging times. The youth participants and their children housed in these supported facilities are already particularly vulnerable to social isolation and financial challenges. The current conditions are greatly affecting their ability to stay connected and to stay healthy.We recently received a very welcome and generous donation of some new technology for the participants in these programs. This will help enhance their access to online supports and networks and will make a tremendous difference.Currently we need additional financial support to help access healthy food choices for the program participants, and to cover the accumulating cost of increased staff support time.The need for physical distancing has greatly increased the level of support needed in a number of ways and we would welcome your donations here.Please take care of yourselves, and each other, and stay healthy.
- Y Member & Community Supporter Update - March 26 - 9:45pm
The past couple of weeks since our closures have been the fastest and the longest that I can remember. We wanted to reach out, as we’re committed to do, in order to maintain a connection to you and help support your ongoing health as best we can.
Our Y is an integral part of the community we serve, and our facilities are communities unto themselves.
We miss you. Our thoughts are with you, and we all look forward to a future state when we are back at the Y. We miss laughing with each other, cheering each other on, and contributing to the positive health of ourselves and our community. We miss looking out at the kids from our childcare centers playing in the yard or a park nearby.
While certainly not the same experience, one of the resources that we wanted to share with you is a link to Y Thrive Home
This resource has been developed by Canadian Y’s to allow members to continue with a workout during this time that Y’s across Canada are closed. It is a challenging time, but we are heartened by all the examples of people still coming together to support each other, and the innovation that is happening.
We are in the process of gathering a variety of additional resources to help you pass the time and to stay with us – please check the website early next week.
Stay safe, and healthy.
- Camp Thunderbird Program Update - March 25 - 9:45pm
We hope that you and your family are safe, in good health and not too negatively impacted by the circumstances around the COVID-19 responses. As with many local nonprofits, it’s certainly been a challenging time here at the Y, including the recent closure of our Health & Fitness Centres and Child Care Centres on March 17th. Spring sessions for school groups at Camp have also been cancelled. At this time, we are continuing with our planning and preparation for summer camp and are monitoring the situation daily.
At this time, we will continue to process scheduled payments for summer camp. We understand the financial pressures that families are facing. If in the future a decision is made to cancel any of our summer camp operations, we will offer full refunds even if it is after the refund deadline of May 1st.
During this rapidly evolving situation, we remain committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our staff, volunteers, members, participants and families. This work includes continuous communication with local health authorities, monitoring of updates from provincial and national governments, coordination with our municipal partners across the region, discussions with our peers across the country, and conversations with our dedicated staff team.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. We hope to see you soon.
Please note due to the high volume of requests the YMCA-YWCA is not answering phone inquiries at this time.
If it is within your means to do so, please consider a charitable donation during this challenging time, to help ensure that we all have a Y to come back to.
Donate to Camp Thunderbird
- Membership, Childcare and Program Update - March 16, 2020 - 7:45pm
Our charity is responding to COVID-19 across all of the programs we deliver. The health of our staff, volunteers, participants, and broader community members is our priority.
We are following the advice of public health agencies and continue to pay close attention to their evolving updates.
Based on the most current information and guidance available, the Vancouver Island Y has temporarily, but indefinitely:
- Closed all Health, Fitness and Aquatic Centers (Downtown Y, Eagle Creek Y, Westhills Y)
- Closed Licensed Child Cares
- Suspended all programs and services including Healthy Living and Mental Wellness
Our Housing programs remain open.
This means that, until further notice, with the exception of housing programs, all programs and services of the Y are closed.
The Y will not be charging fees during this disruption in program and service delivery. Here’s what you need to know:
If you are a Y Health, Fitness & Aquatics Member
All memberships and additional services (such as towel service or plus changerooms) payments for future services have been stopped effective March 17, 2020.
Memberships will be set to automatically resume when we are able to re-open. We will communicate reopening dates when they become available. Any member that made a payment and only received partial service because of the closure will be credited.
If you have recently submitted a request to cancel your membership and still want it to be cancelled, please complete a new cancellation confirmation form. Without this new confirmation your Y membership will not be cancelled as previously requested and will restart with all other Y members when we are able to re-open.
Annual members who have paid for a full year will have their memberships extended for the duration of the closure. No further action is required.
Members with swimming lesson registrations will continue to keep their timeslot during this closure. Please do not complete the Missed Swim Lesson form.
If you have registered for a Y workshop or advanced aquatic course
Anyone registered for a workshop, additional personal coaching sessions or an advanced aquatic course that has been disturbed by the closure, will receive a credit (pro-rated if applicable) on their account and will be able to re-register once new dates have been scheduled. No further action is required.
If you are a Y Child Care family
All child care payments for future services have been stopped effective March 17 . Any child care family that made a payment and only received partial service because of the closure will be credited.
If you are a valued donor to the Y
All monthly donations will continue unless requested. Now more than ever, your contributions to our charitable work are greatly needed and appreciated at this time.
We ask for your patience as we begin to process large numbers of payment adjustments. We are aware that some automatic payments may have already been processed. We recommend you visit https://vancouverislandy.com for the latest updates. Due to the high volume of requests, we are unable to respond to phone inquiries at this time. As a result, if you need to reach us, please email email@example.com
As always, we are committed to keeping you informed about the Y’s response to COVID-19 as it unfolds. Your membership in our organization is greatly valued. We are hopeful that this unique and unprecedented time will represent an opportunity for our community to come together and become stronger as a result of our collective efforts.
- Updated March 16, 2020 12:53pm
We understand that this is a chaotic time for all of us, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to provide updates and information. At the Y, we’re committed to building strong individuals, families and communities, which means we’re working hard to keep our branches open and safe so you can pursue wellness in the long and short term.
We are open with a reduction in programming.
If you are feeling well and wish to come to the Y we welcome you to do so. If you are ill or have traveled internationally, please stay home for the health and safety of all. We have required this of our staff and volunteers.
While facing this unprecedented circumstance we are taking the following actions to enable social distancing and are following updated Health Authority recommendations to limit groups to maximum 50 people, we have:
- Limiting group fitness classes
- Decreased capacity of small group classes and training
- Limiting pool capacity
- Increased signage to remind people of social distancing
- Updated March 13, 2020
During this unprecedented time, the Y is committed to maintaining a healthy environment and supporting the health of our community. Our leadership staff are adjusting our practices and making decisions based on the information available. As information changes so will our practices and decisions.
We are continuously monitoring how we operate programs and our facilities daily. A Risk Assessment Team of senior leadership staff has been formed, who are monitoring the situation closely and will be guided by Health Authorities as we make decisions about Y programs and services. We will communicate through email and our website should there be the need to close our facilities
We expect you are seeing Y staff out and about cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly. We have standardized the use of cleaning products known to be effective against corona virus and tested their strength to ensure it meets the required standard.
All group exercise, swim and child/youth programs are running as currently scheduled. Child Care programs continue to operate as scheduled.
Members who choose not to attend the Y during this time are able to put their membership on hold or cancel as per current hold/cancellation policies.
We have increased signage and messaging to build awareness and adherence to general health and flu prevention guidelines.
We are encouraging all members, patrons, participants, staff and volunteers to stay at home if they are feeling unwell and follow proper protocol if they have recently returned from travel [following Health Authority recommendations]
If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, please contact the local health authorities.
The Y recognizes that this situation is constantly evolving and is committed to staying informed about the situation, taking our guidance from public health agencies and implementing any required measures to prevent the spread of illness at the Y. We will be sure to keep you updated as things develop and if additional measures are implemented.
Thank you for your cooperation in helping to maintain a healthy and safe environment for everyone in our Y community.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO KEEP YOU BUSY
The Y staff team is compiling additional resources and activities to help you pass the time and stay connected with the Y.
We will continue to add to these in the coming days.