The Brighton YMCA has closed its doors a few times during the COVID-19 pandemic and council is considering if it will again give the organization a break on its rent.
The YMCA has asked the municipality for a 50 per cent reduction in its January and February rent payments. At a recent council meeting, politicians discussed the requested rent abatement and ultimately decided to defer the decision until they have more information.
“There are a number of businesses and organizations that are struggling,” said Brighton Deputy Mayor Laura Vink.
She wanted to confirm that the YMCA had applied for all possible grants, loans and wage subsidies that are available through other levels of government.
“We’ve offered this a few times and I just want to make sure we’re not offering money they could get elsewhere because we have lots of things and organizations as well to support here.”
The YMCA is a tenant in the Brighton health centre building on Main Street. The building is owned by the municipality and the YMCA typically pays $2,582 in rent monthly.
Councillor Mary Tadman said she recognized the importance of the YMCA’s role in the community for residents but also echoed Vink’s sentiments.
Brighton CAO Bob Casselman said he was confident the YMCA has applied and received at least one grant from the federal government and would be happy to investigate further and report back to council.
He noted the organization has been resourceful by keeping its classes running in the community in another venue where physical distancing is possible.
“They’ve tried to be innovative quite frankly over this past year,” Casselman said.
“They’ve tried to maintain their base as best they can. They have not fully recovered -- they’re operating at plus or minus 40 per cent of pre-COVID numbers.”
Casselman noted the government has provided funding that the municipality could use to support the YMCA. Vink said she had less concern if those were the funds being used but ultimately it would still be taxpayers footing the bill. Councillors asked staff to report back to council with more information about the amount of money Brighton has received.
In its report, staff recommended council authorize the rent abatement for January and February. The YMCA was closed from Jan. 1 through to Feb. 15 because of the COVID-19 restrictions. With the stay-at-home order lifted Feb. 16, the YMCA was able to open with protocols in place.
To date, council has provided a rent abatement to the YMCA for the period of April to December 2020.
The issue will be discussed again at the April 6 council meeting.
Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News