At the regularly scheduled meeting of North Grenville Council on April 4, a highly anticipated discussion of a proposed partnership between the YMCA and the Municipality took place. The partnership will see the YMCA take on the logistics of operating Kemptville’s outdoor pool throughout the summer season, though the ownership of the pool will remain with the Municipality.
Before jumping into a discussion of the partnership, a Chamber of Commerce agenda item which had been scheduled for later in the meeting was bumped up, likely as a precaution to prevent the polarizing nature of the YMCA partnership proposal from overshadowing the Chamber presentation. Terri-Lyn McEvoy of the North Grenville Chamber of Commerce addressed Council with the welcome news of what a recent municipal grant was used for. Terri-Lyn explained that the grant was used to hire a staff member, which allowed for a successful application for a $79,000 grant from RTO 9. This money will be used to build benches and bike repair stations this spring. As part of the presentation, Terri-Lyn provided some additional background information about the Chamber, including a brief summary of the Chamber’s financials.
When it came time to address the YMCA partnership topic, YMCA CEO Rob Adams began by giving Council some background information on the YMCA, including the various programs that the organization offers, and the families that it helps. The presentation resembled a “business pitch”, with an explanation of the resources and experience that the YMCA brings to the table.
The floor was subsequently opened up for discussion. Councillor Kristin Strackerjan used the opportunity to put forward residents’ questions and concerns for Rob to answer. One such question revolved around the feeling that the Kemptville pool is “sacred ground” – a local place with a rich history. Councillor Strackerjan asked for a commitment that the YMCA will respect what the pool means for locals. Rob explained that the YMCA is not “the Brockville YMCA”, as many people believe, but is actually the YMCA of Eastern Ontario which has evolved over 160 years to serve all area communities. He also reassured that standards of water safety and public access would not change. He further stated that there is a global shortage of qualified lifeguards due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that the YMCA typically hires young, local staff just as the Municipality would for running the pool.
“I understand, based upon our conversation last Tuesday, that certainly we want to make sure that to the extent possible, this year’s program looks similar to past years,” added Mayor Nancy Peckford. “But at the same time, both the Municipality and the [YMCA] may find opportunities to improve service levels, or to introduce new programs, or go in new directions based upon the mutual experience we have this year.”
“Language may change, names may change, but… being a proven entity with a history of success, I really am confident that we will be able to provide a service and a collaboration that the community can be proud of,” said Rob, in response to the Mayor. Other discussion took place on the matter as well, before other agenda items were discussed. These included a planning report, a fire services report, a financial update, and discussions of routine matters such as municipal drains.
Finally, during the Parks, Recreation and Culture portion of the meeting, Council moved to approve the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the partnership between the Municipality and the YMCA, and authorized the Director to execute the MOU on behalf of the Municipality.
The full discussions from the April 4 Council meeting, which ran for over two hours, can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/@NorthGrenville.