Who, what, where, when and Y

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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New facility set to open next month

It has rooms with a view. In fact, from most places in the new Ches Penney Family Y, a person can glance to the south and catch a spectacular view of Signal Hill or the Confederation Building.

“This wall of glass here, which overlooks the city and out through The Narrows, is my absolute favourite part of the building,” says Jason Brown.

The CEO of the Northeast Avalon YM-YWCA is standing in the conditioning centre, future home to fitness buffs and the exercise equipment they’ll use.

But while the view is breathtaking, Brown and the numerous others involved are confident the public will also be blown away by what’s inside the $15.4-million facility on 4.5 acres acquired from Pippy Park. (The City of St. John’s acquired the land and deeded it to the Y.)

To show off the building at the corner of Ridge Road and Higgins Line, Brown re­cently took The Telegram on a tour.

Besides the con­­ditioning centre, it features a fitness studio, a walking track, a gymnasium, multi-use courts and an aquatics centre that includes a main pool, play pool and whirlpool.

Brown notes the pools will result in new programming such as aquafit, swimming lessons and lifeguard training.

People swimming laps, doing inclined bench presses or some other exercise will have a choice of change rooms, depending on their membership level. The building offers general dressing rooms and a place for families to get ready, as well

as a “plus” room where adult mem­bers who pay a little extra can also avail of a sauna and lounge area.

The new Y will offer more than fitness-related activities.

It’ll house multi-purpose rooms, a youth employment centre, a café, and a 60-space childcare centre that, according to Brown, will include one of the region’s only infant care rooms.

Another interesting feature of the building is its geo-thermal heating.

Twenty wells, each at a depth of 500 feet, will help heat and cool the building. The system also allows air to be circulated when an area of the building is dry or moist.

“It kind of brings in an average temperature,” notes Craig Rowe, volunteer chairman of the project and a former board chairman.

The geo-thermal setup was funded in part by a provincial green fund. Rowe notes the system will help reduce operating costs once it is paid off.

The tentative ribbon-cutting for the Ches Penney Family Y is June 30, with open houses scheduled to follow from July 1-3. The doors are expected to open on the fourth.

Brown expects all facilities will be ready, except the aquatics centre. That should be open in July.

To prepare for its move into the new building, the Y’s current home on New Cove Road will close at May’s end.

It’s anticipated between 80 and 90 per cent of that location’s 1,700 members will relocate to the new Y.

The expectation is membership will then double over the first few months.

Brown says fees will increase at the new facility, but notes the value will be greater.

He points out a percentage of members receive funding to participate in Y programs and he expects their numbers will increase as overall membership does. 

Over 12,000 people currently take part in the Y’s outreach programs — childcare, employment and youth enterprise — across the province.

The more successful the new facility is, the more capital the organization will have to expand those offerings.

“By increasing our membership here and getting more people involved in this location, it increases our capacity to open new childcare centres, to some day develop our children’s camp on Tor’s Cove Pond ... and to continue to increase our outreach into other communities,” Brown says.

“This wall of glass here, which overlooks the city and out through The Narrows, is my absolute favourite part of the building.” Jason Brown

Ground was broken on the site in June 2009 and construction started the following month.

As it has been built, a massive fundraising initiative has taken place.

The three levels of government have come onside with a total $4.94 million, and the Y’s Strong Families Campaign has generated $3.3 million.

The remaining portion of the $15.4 million will come from the sale of the building on New Cove Road, investments and financing.

Brown says the strong families campaign is down to the last few hundred thousand of a $3.5-million goal.

“It’s a very successful campaign and we’re pleased with the level of community support,” he says.

Rowe points out 10 per cent has come from the Y’s inner family — its members, volunteers, supporters, staff, and board members.

The new Y was designed by Richard Symonds of Sheppard Case Architects in St. John’s.

He wanted it to have contemporary design, fit into the park context, utilize the natural light and capitalize on the view.

To achieve those things, he incorporated natural materials and lots of windows, and he aligned the conditioning centre directly with The Narrows.

Symonds says the Y told him what it wanted, but gave him a huge amount of design freedom.

“I couldn’t be happier with it, really,” he says.

With the facility’s ribbon-cutting so close and so many people involved, Rowe jokes it’s impossible to say who’s anticipating the opening more.

“It’s just such an exciting thing,” he says.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Twitter: bartlett_steve

Organizations: Ches Penney Family Y, Confederation Building, Sheppard Case Architects

Geographic location: Signal Hill, Northeast Avalon YM-YWCA, Pippy Park Ridge Road New Cove Road

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Recent comments

  • TRAINING usb LIBRARY
    June 05, 2011 - 14:10

    U S AIR FORCE

  • Nick
    May 18, 2011 - 11:11

    I have been a member of the YMCA on New Cove Road for about a year and have been very happy with the service. The only holiday they are closed for is Christmas Day. I am a bit disappointed that the New Cove Road location will close at the end of May and the new location will not open until July.

  • Murphy
    May 18, 2011 - 09:51

    No, EDSEL, it doesn't look like Corner Brook's new City Hall, other than the fact that a good part of it is enclosed in glass. :)

  • Kent
    May 18, 2011 - 08:59

    I was a member of the the former YMCA on New Cove road.. I found that place to be very unreliable in the sense that they would close for just about any and every reason;, snow, holidays, renovations etc... When you are a person that has a regular workout schedule, it is very frustrating to find that your facility closes for several days during Xmas or other holidays. Let's hope they improved in that regard. Otherwise, I'll happily stay at my present health club.

    • John
      May 18, 2011 - 10:57

      I've been going to this facility for 13 years. Not sure about Kent's comment reliability, because the only days it's closed is Christmas Day and New Years day. All other major holidays it's open from 6 to 6 which is fine for most people I know to get a workout in.

  • Adelle
    May 18, 2011 - 08:49

    does anyone know if there will be any sort of plaque or memorium to remember what the site was originally used for. The Terry Fox playground was a fun place to play when it was first built.

  • Edsel
    May 18, 2011 - 07:21

    Oh my that looks a LOT like Corner Brook's new City Hall. Hmmm. Google it!