Y pitches membership over swim passes in Petrolia

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Heather Wright/The Independent

Don’t expect to see swim passes at the Petrolia Y anytime soon.

The Y’s General Manager Wade Babula and Joe Cebulski, the former Petrolia Y manager who now works with YMCA of Southwestern Ontario spoke with Petrolia Council Monday on the heels of a suggestion by Councillor Chad Hyatt.

Hyatt wondered if the facility, which has run at a deficit of between $350,000 and $450,000 over the last few years, should offer a swim pass to attract users.

Monday, Councillor Liz Welsh questioned why the passes weren’t available.

“I think there is a huge gap between what the Y here charges for those swim lessons and memberships, and what people can get outside of the community,” said Welsh, adding many people she knows are travelling to St. Clair Township to use the Moore Sports Complex. “They’re going outside our community, and when they do that, they aren’t just going there for their swimming lessons. They’re going to No Frills when they’re shopping, than they’re going out to eat in Corunna…we’re losing retail, and other things in our community.”

Welsh says all of the people she talked to said they would use the Petrolia Y if it was more affordable.
Mayor Brad Loosley also advocated for the reinstatement of the swim passes.

“The building is the town’s and we’re already paying for the (Y’s yearly) deficit…If you create a little more deficit because of the public swim, we’re picking that up already.”

Cebulski said those who find the Y’s prices to high can ask for financial assistance, even if they feel they wouldn’t qualify. Right now, 1 in 14 members receive some form of financial assistance.

“We don’t want people leaving, either,” he said, adding the Y wants to stay with its membership model. “I really, truly believe that our best option is connecting our citizens with the financial assistance that the Y provides and let us continue to grow that (membership) number.”

Cebulski and Babula suggested that having a separate Y membership just for the pool would only be about a dollar less than the current memberships.

Cebuski says the Y is about more than just swimming and they try to show the benefit of being a member; “The Y is not for everybody either…we want them…if they’re just coming for a recreational swim…we’re the Y, we’re not good at that two dollar entry. We’re about membership..we have 1,400 members… they like our pricing.”

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