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Sunday, October 6, 2019 

UPDATE: The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Ministry of Education and the trustees’ association HAVE reached a settlement.

What this means for our Y families:

  • All school boards located within our association have announced they are open and classes will run.
  • YMCA Child Care Centres will operate as usual.
  • YMCA Day Camps offered in anticipation of school closures will NOT run at branches or any other location. Refunds will be processed for camp fees paid.


Friday, October 4, 2019 

School closures? We’ve got you covered!

In the event of school closures next week, the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario is pleased to offer PA-day-style camps in branches across the region.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Camps include fun, healthy activities, games and crafts, led by our qualified child and youth staff, and are appropriate for ages 4-12.

2. Location hours will vary based on operational considerations across the region. Please connect with your local YMCA to confirm Camp hours for your local branch.

3. Camper fees may vary depending on your location. Fees will be applied on a day to day basis, so we can respond to the evolving situation. Please connect with your local YMCA to confirm rates.

4. Registration opens at 2PM today - Friday, October 4 - on a first come, first served basis.

5. In the event of a resolution, and schools are open on Monday, refunds will be processed.

This PA-day-style camp will be offered at our Health and Fitness branches across the region of Southwestern Ontario.

Ready to Register? Find the barcode for your branch here and then register online.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019 

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As you are likely aware, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is currently implementing job action across the province, which could affect the operation of our YMCA programs in school locations.

While these decisions and any related impacts are outside of the control of the YMCA, we are working closely with school board officials to understand and respond to any necessary changes.

We will be in continuous communication with parents and guardians as the situation evolves.

In the event of a full withdrawal of services, which we understand may occur as soon as next week, some of our programs may have to be closed, however, as of today, we expect that all programs will be operating as usual for the remainder of this week.

We will provide updates as often as necessary to ensure we help minimize the effect of this situation on the families we serve.



November 1, 2018  

Regional YMCA Merger Complete

YMCA of Southwestern Ontario will serve the full region from Windsor to Woodstock, North to Goderich and South to Point Pelee

LONDON, ON & SARNIA, ON - November 1, 2018 - As originally announced in June 2018 and after more than a year of intentionally working toward unification, the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario and the YMCA of Western Ontario are officially one legal organization under the banner, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, effective today, November 1.

The unified organization will serve the full region from Windsor in the West, North to Goderich, South to Point Pelee National Park, and East to Woodstock, and will be focused on creating lasting impact in all communities served for generations to come. The unified YMCA is led by Andrew Lockie as CEO. Former Interim President and CEO of YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario, Kathi Lomas McGee, has taken the role of Senior Vice President of Operations in the new association.

Lockie said the decision to unify was not based on cost savings, but rather on the belief that together, a unified Y could have even greater and lasting impact on local communities. “This is about doing more with more. Together, we’ll be able to serve more children, youth and families with an even stronger governance and operational model, including improved staff supports and opportunities.”

Together, the two associations are expected to serve more than 190,000 people in the region at nearly 200 different locations.

This unification is one of the first in Canada as part of a larger strategic movement by YMCAs nationally to strengthen their capacity and impact on local communities. YMCA Canada applauded the work as a step forward in strengthening the YMCA movement in Canada.

“Congratulations to the newly amalgamated YMCA of Southwestern Ontario as they advance their commitment toward long-term sustainability and better meeting local needs,” says Peter Dinsdale, President and CEO of YMCA Canada. “This is a great example of the strategic decisions YMCAs are making together to create bigger impact in the communities they serve.”

Per the unification business plan, the new organization will be led by a board that includes a combination of members of each individual association’s former board and new membership, as well as an amalgamated leadership team with senior staff from both associations.

The unified organization has a number of goals in the next five years, including enhanced and expanded service to communities across the region, improved operations, and most importantly, greater impact to individuals, children, youth, and families through greater responsiveness to community needs.

For more information, please contact:
Gerry Gillis, Manager of Communications
519.381.9948 gerry.gillis@swo.ymca.ca

YMCA announces new leadership team for The Centre in Petrolia

Oil Heritage District Community Centre to become YMCA in April with new and existing staff leadership

PETROLIA, ON - MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2018 - The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario have announced the appointment of leadership staff for the new Petrolia YMCA, when it assumes contracted operations of The Oil Heritage District Community Centre (The Centre), in April 2018.

Tracey Taylor, who is currently the General Manager of the Jerry McCaw Family Centre in Sarnia, has been appointed to the position of General Manager. Tracey is a long-time, respected YMCA leader with 30 years of progressively senior experience in the YMCA movement, including Adult Fitness, Youth Education and Development, and Membership Centre management. As a lifelong resident of Petrolia, Tracey will serve her home town and bring the YMCA experience to friends, neighbours, and fellow residents. She will be responsible for leading the delivery of high quality programs and services, supporting and developing the existing staff team, and ensuring the YMCA’s unique model of community engagement is successfully implemented in Petrolia.

Consistent with the YMCA’s promise to provide existing Centre staff with the first opportunity to apply for employment, current Centre staff, Aylien Wattel and Leah Van Barneveld, have accepted the roles of Wellness and Group Fitness Coordinator, and Aquatic Coordinator, respectively. A member of the Centre staff team since 2015, Aylien currently serves as the Centre's Wellness Coordinator. Leah recently returned to the Centre in the role of Aquatic Coordinator after previously serving the Centre as an Aquatic Deck Supervisor, and has experience in aquatic program delivery and leadership from past employment at Tecumseh Pool- Sarnia, Western University, and Pathways Health Centre - Sarnia. 

The YMCA, through an internal Job Fair exclusively for existing Centre staff, received applications for employment from 45 of 58 existing Centre staff and contractors.  The leadership team of Tracey, Aylien, and Leah will be involved in the selection of the remaining staff team.  The YMCA anticipates completing the hiring of staff required for the new Petrolia YMCA from within the existing Centre staff team with a few exceptions where internal candidates could not be secured.

Petrolia Leadership

(L-R): Leah Van Barneveld- YMCA Aquatic Coordinator, Tracey Taylor-YMCA General Manager, and Aylien Wattel - YMCA Wellness and Group Fitness Coordinator.

Krista Gillespie, VP Health, Fitness, and Aquatics
YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
C: 519-330-3745


YMCA proposal to operate The Centre in Petrolia approved by Council 

Following an extensive public consultation process, the YMCA is expected to assume operations of the health and fitness facility in April. 

PETROLIA, ON - MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 2018 - After an extensive community consultation process, including 10 individual stakeholder sessions, the YMCA announced today that the Town of Petrolia has approved the YMCA’s proposal to assume contracted operation of the Oil Heritage District Community Centre (“The Centre”). The YMCA’s Board of Directors will consider ratification of the agreement at their meeting on January 23, 2018 and with approval, the new agreement will be effective April 2, 2018. 

The YMCA’s interest in operating The Centre is aligned with their mission to build healthy communities and consistent with the Town’s strategic priority to grow a Community of Health in Petrolia. 

The arrangement is similar to those in place for other municipal services including management of the waste water treatment plant, and artistic direction for the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia. The agreement ensures that: 

- The Town of Petrolia retains ownership of The Centre, all donor recognition/named features, equipment and assets; 

- The YMCA will engage current Centre staff team with a first opportunity for application for employment; 

- The YMCA will deliver greater operational efficiency to The Centre and reduce the Town’s annual investment, including an estimated total savings of $517,538 over a five year period; 

- The YMCA will offer an all-inclusive membership experience and ensure that non-member and public access is maintained. 

-The YMCA will implement its Assisted Membership program, providing subsidized access to membership and programs for individuals and families in financial need. 

Petrolia residents and participants across the region will have access to The Centre through membership and day use passes. The YMCA’s all-inclusive membership model offers all programs and services included in one standard price, including their popular swimming lessons, individual wellness coaching, and group fitness classes. 

“Every effort was made in the proposed operating model to reflect the needs of the community and minimize change or disruption”, confirmed Kathi Lomas McGee, Interim President and CEO of YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario. 

“Our YMCA has appreciated the opportunity to design an operating model that reflects the unique needs of Petrolia, is in keeping with our existing models throughout the region, and is reflective of feedback received during community consultations,” said McGee. 

“We are excited about this opportunity to bring increased health, fitness and recreation to the lives of even more individuals and families in Petrolia.” 

Under the agreement, Boomers Plus will remain at The Centre, and the Lambton Central Petrolia Optimist Club’s agreement regarding meeting space will continue. 

Further, the YMCA will report to the Town monthly regarding financials, offer a quarterly operational report and an annual operating review, and submit a proposed annual operating budget and capital budget. 

The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario has 100 years of experience in community health, fitness, recreation and membership services, and currently serves more than 21,000 participants at 49 locations in the region, including 1 in 5 participants who access the YMCA’s financial assistance program. 

More information on the project, including the opportunity to sign up for membership updates, is available at: activepetrolia.ca. 

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact: 

Kathi Lomas McGee 

Interim President and CEO 519-955-3432 


February 02, 2018 

Ministry of Education Approves $1.8 million to Increase 

Child Care Spaces in LKDSB Schools 

The Ministry of Education has approved a $1.8 million investment in the Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) to increase licensed child care spaces in Chatham and Wheatley. 

The provincial government is providing the LKDSB with $1.6 million to provide 49 child care spaces at Indian Creek Road Public School through its Early Years Capital Program Funding. The Ministry is also funding $264,000 for 10 child care spaces at Wheatley Area Public School. 

“This funding will support families by providing additional child care spaces in Chatham and Wheatley,” said Elizabeth Hudie, LKDSB Chair. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with our community partners to support young families and promote community hubs within our schools.” 

"We're thrilled about this funding for an improved child care facility,” said Kathi Lomas McGee, YMCA President & CEO. “It will allow the YMCA to expand our Before-and-After Child Care services at Indian Creek Road Public School to include quality infant, toddler and pre-school care, making it more convenient for families in this community. We’re grateful for the ongoing support and partnership of the LKDSB for our YMCA Child Care programs.” 

“This is great news for families in Wheatley and the surrounding area. Local families will benefit from the new licensed infant spaces that are more convenient and closer to home,” said Kelly Emery, Municipality of Chatham-Kent Director of Child Care and Early Years Division. “This investment from the Ministry of Education gives young children a strong start in life and supports families with access to safe, high-quality licensed child care.” 

LKDSB Senior Administration will be working with the Ministry to develop a plan for the construction and renovations at the two school sites. The LKDSB will also be meeting with child care providers to discuss future plans for the sites. 

For additional information contact: 

Elizabeth Hudie, Chair of the Board, 519-542-0939 

Jim Costello, Director of Education, 519-336-1500, Ext 31297 Kathi Lomas-McGee, Interim President & Chief Executive Officer, 519-336-9622, Ext. 224 

Kelly Emery, Director of Child Care and Early Years Division, Municipality of Chatham-Kent, 519-351- 1228, Ext. 2130 

For reference information contact: 

Heather Hughes, Public Relations Officer, 519-336-1500, Ext. 31262 


JANUARY 24, 2018

Stronger Together

Our Goal:  Together, we will create lasting impact in all our communities for generations to come!

SARNIA, ON – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2018 - Based on our strong history of collaboration, the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario and the YMCA of Western Ontario have agreed in principle to work toward a unified, single, regional YMCA.  A comprehensive review of both organizations’ strengths, challenges and opportunities has been conducted. 

Together we would serve the full region from Windsor in the West, North to Goderich, South to Point Pelee National Park, East to Woodstock.

Board Chair of the YMCA of Western Ontario, Marjie Macoun, explained, “we have a long-standing positive working relationship that includes our collaborative partnership to successfully create Camp Henry at Point Pelee National Park.  We are really excited about this possibility of becoming one organization!”

The Boards, CEOs and staff leadership recognized their strong alignment in mission, vision, values and programming and see this as an opportunity to better serve our communities. 

For Shawn Zettel, Chair of the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario, maintaining local connections remains a priority.  As he stated, “the unification plan will allow the YMCAs to access the benefits of a regional organization while also maintaining strong local leadership and community-level connections, so that local YMCAs ‘look and feel’ like the community they serve”.  The spirit of YMCAs staying connected to local communities will remain a priority.

The work over the coming months will focus on developing the business and transition plan. Final decision regarding whether or not to become one organization will likely occur by the summer of 2018. 

These YMCAs are not alone in their pursuit of unification.  As Andrew Lockie, CEO, YMCA of Western Ontario shared, “Across North America, YMCAs have been joining forces to achieve greater impact on the communities they serve. The decision is consistent and aligned with the YMCA Canada Strategy and vision to strengthen the overall capacity and capabilities of YMCAs across Canada. The aim is to grow and create impact in a rapidly changing community environment and philanthropic landscape.  This work of strengthening regional areas by creating larger regional organizations is occurring across other sectors as well.”

Kathi Lomas-McGee, Interim CEO, YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario explained the importance of planning for today and years to come, “we remain committed to serving our members and communities in the best possible way as we plan for the future.  We believe together, we will create lasting impact in all our communities for generations to come!”

If you have any questions please contact:

Andrew Lockie, YMCA CEO-YMCA of Western Ontario, 519-907-5500 x1120, alockie@ymcawo.ca


Kathi Lomas-McGee, YMCA Interim President & CEO, YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario,
519-x955-3432, kathi.lomasmcgee@swo.ymca.ca


November 23, 2017

YMCA honours local peacekeeper with peace medallion

 Sarnia, ON – Build community.  Act for peace.  That’s the message the YMCA is sending this week as YMCAs across Canada celebrate YMCA World Peace Week, providing an opportunity to join people of all ages in activities focused on exploring peace from a local and global perspective. Local YMCAs recognize unsung heroes within our community - individuals who give of their own time and money to make a positive difference in our world.   

 2017 marks the 30th Anniversary of the YMCA Peace Medal. It was developed in 1987 by the International Committee at the YMCA of Fredericton. That year, this committee of volunteers and staff was tasked with developing Peace Week support materials for YMCAs across the country.

 Inspired by efforts of Jim and Kay Bedell in raising awareness of the 1982 United Nations Disarmament Conference by walking from New Brunswick to New York City to attend, the Committee decided to institute an award, a peace medal, to be given by YMCAs across the country each year to people like Jim and Kay.

 Since 1987, more than 1,900 individuals and groups across Canada have been recognized with YMCA Peace Medals. This list of local recipients is attached.Today, the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario celebrated Peace Week by awarding the YMCA Peace Medallion to a local winner: 

Aruba Mahmud – Sarnia
YMCA 2017 Peace Medallion Award Winner – Individual Category

Aruba is very active in the Sarnia-Lambton area doing outreach work and interfaith work through the Sarnia Muslim Association.  Since 2014, she has been speaking to students, community groups and others about anti-racism and Islamophobia.  Over the last 3 years she has given dozens of talks and presentations to elementary and secondary students, to Girl Guides and Scout groups.  She’s also spoken to adults – teachers at PD sessions, diversity training sessions, and has spread her peace-keeping efforts into Lambton College and Western University.  Her goal of her presentations is to challenge misinformation and discrimination, promote discussion and diversity, and promote peace and coexistence. (Photo attached).

If interested in interviewing the award recipient, or taking photos, please call for contact information.

 Gerry Gillis, Communications Manager
YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
(519) 381-9948







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