Time for YMCA to return?

It may be time for the YMCA to make a return to Red Deer, says a former longtime volunteer with the organization.

It may be time for the YMCA to make a return to Red Deer, says a former longtime volunteer with the organization.

Wendy Walls, who chaired the local YMCA for many years until it folded about 20 years ago, says there has been growing interest in bringing the organization back to the city.

“I became aware the Calgary Y is interested in starting a Y in Red Deer,” said Walls, who said the issue came up at a meeting of the Calgary group’s board.

To get the ball rolling, a local group would need to come together which can spearhead the project by forming a board, or recruiting representatives to pitch the proposal to the city.

YMCA got its start in Red Deer in the early 1960s and eventually bought the Sacred Heart School, which was located at 43rd Avenue and 58th Street before it was torn down many years ago.

To pay the mortgage, local YMCA volunteers worked weekly bingos. At the time, the city was not interested in supporting the group and it remained the only YMCA west of Winnipeg to not get municipal funding, she said.

Eventually, the burden of keeping the facility — which had been expanded with a pair of racquetball courts — got to be too much for the volunteers and the YMCA folded. It had also rented a city pool to offer some of its programs.

Walls said Medicine Hat and Lethbridge both have YMCAs and Edmonton and Calgary have about three each. Red Deer would be a natural location for a revived group.

The city would be needed to provide the facility and the YMCA would re responsible for the programming. The underused Michener Centre pool and facility might be a good fit, she suggested.

Since YMCA programs involve a lot of volunteer participation, programs can be offered at an affordable rate for families with limited incomes.

Walls said she often hears people who have come from other communities ask at social functions why Red Deer has no YMCA.

She has also heard that the city is more receptive to the idea than it once was.

Walls, who is now 75, said she’s willing to help those interested in setting up a YMCA get started, but she’s not able to carry the organizing load herself. Younger champions with good business and community connections are needed.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the idea has some merit.

“I suspect with our much larger population now it may well be time to pick that up,” he said.

Those interested in a YMCA can contact Walls at 403-347-2876.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Victim in 2015 murder stabbed a dozen times

Daniel Boyd Sawyer on trial for second-degree murder

North Pole Stroll returns with Red Deer Lights the Night, Late Night Shopping

Red Deer’s Lights the Night and late night shopping events are back… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s Canyon Ski Resort is ready for the 2019 Canada Winter Games

The upgrades prepare the resort to host free-style skiing and snowboarding events

Red Deer man patrols streets at night after his truck was stolen twice in 3 months

‘I stay up every single night, they drive around, they test every car door…’

Lowry has strong words for Raptors’ lack of communication after loss

TORONTO — Raptors coach Nick Nurse might not have had a good… Continue reading

S. Korea’s ‘Garlic Girls’ accuse coaches of derailing team

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The Garlic Girls, South Korea’s hugely popular… Continue reading

Trump administration defends its case against CNN’s Acosta

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to fend off a… Continue reading

Long hidden, Marie Antoinette’s jewels go up for auction

GENEVA — Diamond and pearl earrings, pearl necklaces, a giant pearl pendant… Continue reading

A No-Go: Athletes and officials weigh in after Calgary votes ‘no’ to 2026 bid

TORONTO — Rotating Olympic hosts? A single go-to destination every four years?… Continue reading

Predators may have NHL’s best goalie combo on, off ice

NASHVILLE — Pekka Rinne is off to an even better start than… Continue reading

Canadian Premier League buys Ontario’s League 1, looks to develop talent there

TORONTO — The Canadian Premier League has bought Ontario’s League 1 and… Continue reading

Most Read