Plans for major makeover of Winnipeg’s downtown YMCA-YWCA include more child-care spaces, splash pad

A major makeover for Winnipeg’s downtown YMCA-YWCA building is in the works, with planned renovations that would include new classrooms, child-care spaces and even a new aquatic area to play in. 

Plans for the multimillion-dollar renovation of the Vaughan Street facility were announced Thursday at an event to mark the location’s 110th anniversary. 

No timeline for the renovation has been nailed down yet, as the organization is still looking to secure funding, but talks are already underway, said Cordella Friesen, president and CEO of the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg. 

The hope is that once complete, the downtown Y building — which currently has amenities that include a gym, an indoor pool, an indoor track and squash courts — will have more recreation and health spaces in a safe environment to better serve the downtown population, said Friesen.

Rendering of a newly renovated building with white tiles and modern furniture.
A rendering shows what the downtown Y could look like once the proposed renovations are complete. (Travis Golby/CBC)

“The pandemic has hit us hard just like anybody else in the downtown, but we believe we’re still needed, we believe that the community still needs us, and that means we need to redesign ourselves to meet those community needs,” she said. 

The Y also has an important role to play in addressing the safety issues the city’s downtown is facing, she said.

“We see ourselves as the solution, as the safe place for people to convene and come together in the downtown, so we think we have a role to play in that.”

Exterior view of a brown brick building.
Winnipeg’s downtown Y, located at 301 Vaughan St., is marking its 110th anniversary this month. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Downtown revitalization

Mayor Scott Gillingham, who made revitalizing Winnipeg’s downtown a key pillar of his election campaign, said he was excited to see plans to reinvigorate the Vaughan Street building and provide more services for people living downtown, such as expanded child care. 

“The future of downtown all depends on more people living in the downtown,” he said. 

“So this is very exciting news that the Y has a vision to expand its child-care offerings, which will be very important for people in our downtown.” 

In addition to the aquatic play area and child-care spaces, the proposed redevelopment also includes modernized health and fitness facilities and an expanded newcomer service centre. 

Friesen said the YMCA-YWCA is in preliminary talks with different community and government partners to fund the redevelopment, but won’t be moving forward until the organization has secured at least 70 per cent of the project cost.

YMCA-YWCA renovations hope to revitalize Winnipeg’s downtown

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A major makeover for Winnipeg’s downtown YMCA is in the works, with planned renovations that would include new classrooms, child care spaces and even a new aquatic area to play in.

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