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LETTER: Y's new fund 'thuddingly insensitive' to Orillia

'Their plan does not propose to use the money for any grand purpose – it banks the money to generate interest,' laments Friends of Geneva Park group
2021-01-21 YMCA Geneva Park
YMCA Geneva Park. Image supplied

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter, from the Friends of Geneva Park, is in response to a news release titled, "YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka creating new community fund," published Dec. 2.
At their recent annual general meeting, the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka (YSM) announced a new community fund to support the organization’s long-term strength. The $12M fund is a portion of their profits from the unconditional sale of Geneva Park and the Orillia Y to private developers.  

The announcement is thuddingly insensitive to the local community, its stakeholders and donors, who collectively financed and nurtured the infrastructure, charitable communities, programs and services that were abandoned in the sale of those facilities.

The YSM’s three-year plan for spending their ill-gotten gains is almost entirely self-referential: making the YSM more financially stable, a better place to work, etc. There is no mention of infrastructure, program or service delivery associated with the new fund. In fact, the plan does not appear designed to benefit anyone other than the YSM itself.

The only mention of the community is a vague intention to consult about its problems. Remarkably, the YSM feigns oblivion to priority needs in the community, leading one to surmise that they’ve taken the extreme measure of selling off charitably acquired assets without a strategic purpose in mind.

Generally speaking, plans are meant to precede actions. Wouldn’t it have made sense to know and prioritize community needs strategically, before selling off program assets?

But in this case, a strategic plan was cobbled together after making the cash grab. Their plan does not propose to use the money for any grand purpose – it banks the money to generate interest. All they get for the $16 million Geneva Park windfall is a few hundred thousand a year in interest on the remaining $12 million. In effect they’ve robbed their mission and shattered their stakeholder communities to improve their balance sheet.

The only need that YSM recognized in their sale of community assets is the sole priority they proclaim now: the improvement of financial and job security and satisfaction for the YSM itself. That they display their self-interest so publicly with such self-serving rhetoric suggests that they are confused about the difference between community interest and self-interest. What’s good for the YSM is not necessarily good for the community.

Is this a giant octopus stretched across the dining table pulling all the food into itself?

The board of directors of Friends of Geneva Park