‘This is not a decision we undertook lightly, but the pandemic has caused financial pressures that are, quite simply, beyond our control,’ says official
YMCA OF SIMCOE/MUSKOKA
The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka announced today that it will begin a process to sell Geneva Park, its leadership and conference centre on Lake Couchiching.
The sale of the property, a longstanding conference, camping and outdoor education destination located just outside of Orillia, is part of a commitment to the long-term sustainability of the association post-pandemic, says board acting chair and Geneva Park Ad-hoc Committee chair, Lynn Strachan.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on many businesses and organizations, and our YMCA is not immune to this,” she confirmed. “Our board of directors takes seriously our responsibility to ensure the long-term strength and sustainability of our charity. This is not a decision we undertook lightly, but the pandemic has caused financial pressures that are, quite simply, beyond our control.”
In the coming weeks, the YMCA will initiate a request for proposal (RFP) to choose a real estate provider to manage the sale process. But, says Jill Tettmann, CEO, the association’s focus is on mitigating the immediate impact of the decision on stakeholders, including staff and those with summer 2021 bookings.
“We don’t yet know what health regulations will bring for the summer season, but if possible, we are committed to a process that would allow us to honour current bookings and run family camp this summer – if health authorities tell us it is safe to do so,” said Tettmann. “We’ll be working closely with our staff team to ensure they have the support they need and are kept up-to-date on the impacts of this decision.”
The association is committed to continuous communication throughout the process. Anyone interested in next steps can visit ymcaofsimcoemuskoka.ca/genevapark for more information and to stay-up-to- date on the process, including the opportunity to submit questions to the YMCA.
The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, which served over 100,000 people in 2019, continues to operate programs across the region, including health, fitness and aquatics, child care, employment and immigrant services, community programs and other camping programs, as health regulations allow.
Why was this decision made?
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause hardships and challenges for individuals, families and communities across Canada and, unfortunately, our YMCA is not immune to these negative impacts.
Our board of directors takes seriously our responsibility to ensure the long-term strength and sustainability of this YMCA, on behalf of the over 100,000 participants we serve across the region.
We intend to be here, working hard to build healthy communities, long after the pandemic has passed. That’s why, after careful consideration, our board of directors decided to begin the process to sell Geneva Park.
When will the property be listed? What does this process look like?
We are committed to a transparent process and this announcement is just the first step. We anticipate a request for proposal (RFP) for a realtor to represent the YMCA to be circulated the week of January 25th with completion of this process expected by mid-February. This will be followed by a public listing for the property in March 2021.
What will be done to celebrate the long legacy of Geneva Park?
The YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka is currently exploring ideas to remember and celebrate the legacy of Geneva Park. You are welcome to submit ideas at ymcaofsimcoemuskoka.ca/genevapark where you can also indicate your interest in staying up-to-date on next steps.
What happens to family camp applications for Summer 2021?
All groups with current bookings can be assured that the YMCA will do everything it can to honour these bookings in accordance with both public health guidelines and the sale process. We intend to connect with all contacts by the end of February. You can also stay up to date on the process at ymcaofsimcoemuskoka.ca/genevapark.
What if someone did not submit an application for Summer 2021 family camp but with this news, they want to come? Can an application still be submitted?
Thank you for your interest! We understand that this news may be sparking additional interest in the park. At this time, we welcome you to contact the park at 705-325-2253 to inquire about availability. If these circumstances change and there are new opportunities to book, we will communicate those via the website. As well, we know there will be great interest in honouring the wonderful history of Geneva Park, so you can sign up for our email list to be sure you’re informed about plans to mark this legacy at ymcaofsimcoemuskoka.ca/genevapark.
How will this affect other local groups or organizations that use Geneva Park?
The YMCA will do everything it can to honour all current bookings in accordance with both public health guidelines and the sale process. We intend to connect with all contacts by the end of February.