The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka is shutting down its Parry Sound fitness facility.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has been forced to make several difficult decisions related to a number of its facilities and programs.

In an interview with MyMuskokaNow, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka CEO Rob Armstrong says with limited reserves resulting from the pandemic, it was no longer financially viable to continue operating the Parry Sound location.

“There are other opportunities for folks to get exercise and work out, and the community would be better served to close the health fitness portion part of that facility to repurpose the extra space for additional childcare.

Parry Sound joins the Y’s in Barrie and Orillia – who will also be closing their fitness centres.

Armstrong notes they will continue to operate the Parry Sound facility as a licensed childcare centre – to help address the community’s need for childcare delivery.

As for the closure of the fitness centre, he notes the decision was not an easy one and took about four months to transpire.

“Hopefully, it’s just in the short term that we won’t be able to offer our health, fitness and aquatic programming. But we are dedicated and committed to working with the town to be able to come up with a new facility that will meet the needs of residents in Parry Sound in a different way.”

Armstrong adds that the Y is also making every effort to relocate staff to other locations and to support them in finding new employment opportunities.

Despite the closures, he says they will continue to work with the town of Parry Sound and the surrounding area to build a new health and recreation centre in the future.

“We hope we can continue to work with the community around the vision of a larger centre that the YMCA will have an opportunity to operate. We still have our childcare and employment programs and hope that post-COVID, there will be other opportunities for us to provide services in that recreation area.”

Meanwhile, the YMCA anticipates re-opening its health and fitness facilities in Collingwood, Gravenhurst, Innisfil, Midland and Wasaga Beach.

Armstrong says they are confident these facilities will start opening doors starting in September.