“The main reason (for the move) is that we’ve been trying to be more visible – more accessible – to people in our community for a long time,” Executive Director of the YWCA Muskoka Hannah Lin tells the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom.

On December 1st, they will be moving from their current location at 440 Ecclestone Drive in Bracebridge to 205 Manitoba Street. “The cost of being right downtown is higher, but the cost of not being available to people during the pandemic is even higher than that,” Lin says. She adds the new building will have the square footage as the old one.

“People will be able to better see us,” Lin says about the move. She believes the new location will be easier for people to get to since it’s right downtown and it’s near a Bracebridge Transit stop as well

“It’s a bit of an advocacy move as well,” she says. “There’s a long history of women being behind the scenes in the home and invisible.” Lin says that by being downtown, it’s hard to ignore the issues that women face. 

“70-percent of women between the ages of 35 and 45 lost their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic,” she says. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she says women have dealt with “a mix of issues” with mental health being the overlying issue. Lin says we’re seeing women “reinvent themselves” and look for support, which the YWCA hopes to better offer with this new location.

“We’ll be much better able to do summer camp programs next summer,” Lin boasts. She adds that after-school programs are included in that as are drop-in programs. “It’s hard to do a drop-in program when it’s a $20 or $30 cab ride,” she says.

YWCA Muskoka has a staff team of 16 and runs 15 different programs for women, families, seniors and youth throughout the District. YWCA programs are currently running virtually online and they hope to resume in-person programming and events in 2021 when it is safe to do so.