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Chilliwack Council Approves YMCA Operating Rec Centres, Automatic Weather Station at Chilliwack Airport (VIDEO)

Chilliwack – AUGUST 16 UPDATE – Chilliwack Council Approved the $160,000 for an automated weather station. Councilor Sue Knott made it painfully obvious that after last November’s rains, Chilliwack Airport “needed to get into 2022” with such a system and that it will help Chilliwack Airport into future growth.

Council also released their statement on the YMCA Lease Management agreement for 2022-2027 for the management of the Cheam Leisure Centre, Landing Leisure Centre, and Rotary Pool:

Following the Request for Proposals process, Chilliwack City Council awarded the upcoming contract for the management of the Cheam Leisure Centre, Landing Leisure Centre, and Rotary Pool to the YMCA of Greater Vancouver on August 16, 2022. Following a transition period, it is anticipated that the YMCA will take over operations in mid-September 2022.

“Across Canada there have been challenges for recreation facility operators that no one was immune to, and the effects will continue with us for a while,” said Mayor Popove. “Training to become a lifeguard is a serious investment of time and money, and while there is no quick-fix for this issue, we are excited about the YMCA’s vision for these facilities and their track record of success.”

Over the last two years, a variety of health orders from the Provincial Health Officer caused challenges for municipal recreation services. Limited training and recertification opportunities for lifeguards due to health restrictions, restricted hours, and staff seeking stable employment elsewhere during the pandemic, have all contributed to lifeguard and swim instructor shortages across Canada.

The YMCA of Greater Vancouver has been operating in Chilliwack for over 50 years and, in addition to their own facilities, they operate municipal recreation facilities in a number of other Lower Mainland communities. The YMCA’s proposal for the operation of Chilliwack’s leisure centres was evaluated based on six technical criteria (corporate and management experience; proposed key facility management personnel; employee recruitment, training, retention and wage strategies; proposed facility programming; proposed facility maintenance strategies; and proposed community engagement) and scored the highest of the submissions. As per the Request for Proposals, the YMCA will pay lifeguards and swim instructors the $22 and $20 rates as determined by Council earlier this year.

While the YMCA will manage these civic facilities, the operation will be independent of the local YMCA. Facility drop-in and membership rates for civic facilities are set by Council through the Parks, Recreation and Culture Bylaw, therefore there will be no change in these rates under the new management. YMCA memberships will not be required to access programs and services at the leisure centres or the Rotary Pool.

The existing management contract for the leisure centres and the Rotary Pool expired during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Request for Proposals was delayed until there was more certainty for prospective leisure centre operators.

Cheam Leisure Centre, Landing Leisure Centre, and Rotary Pool/2022/City of Chilliwack

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AUGUST 15 ORIGINAL STORY – The Tuesday August 16, 2022 council meeting will have a number if issues to deal with in the dog days of summer.

Full agenda listings are here.

One major concern is the operation of the recreation centres in Chilliwack and Sardis and the on going staff shortages.

There will be a recommendation that Council accept the Request for Proposal for the management and operation of the Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre, Cheam Leisure Centre and Rotary Pool, to the YMCA of Greater Vancouver, in the amount of $10,027,777.00 (plus applicable taxes), for a five-year term commencing September 12, 2022 to September 12, 2027; and further, that the Mayor and Corporate Officer be authorized to sign any necessary documentation.

The other request was from the current management – Recreation Excellence.

Amber Price has been very vocal about this issue and posted to a number of Facebook pages, this link (Better Pools for Chilliwack)

Mayor and Council will be voting tomorrow on who manages our two publicly owned pools for the next five years.

Please use your voice and advocate for in-house management of both of our recreation facilities. Currently we have ~11.5 hours of public swim time, while the city managed facilities in Abbotsford offer over 100 hours per week. Our city’s families are struggling to find swimming lesson availability for their kids, and our lifeguards are underpaid, and travelling to other cities to work, compounding the issue further.

If you’re frustrated by how things are running right now, and would like to see the City of Chilliwack take over its own facilities for better services, and availability of the pools our taxpayer dollars built, please consider sending in a letter – it only takes a moment. Use Your Voice – we get better by asking for better!

Also, Chilliwack Airport does not have an automated weather observation station. In fact, Environment Canada uses Agassiz as their point of reference for Chilliwack Weather. There is a recommendation that council spend over $169,000 for such a system.

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