Langford Mayor Stew Young stops for a quick photo in what will be a weight room overlooking the pool area at the Langford Westhills Y. Members of the media and community were invited to the site Tuesday for a special announcement and a tour of the progress.

Greater Victoria YM-YWCA expands its horizons

Langford, View Royal ‘Y’ facilities on track to open in April 2016

Carved from the rock off Langford Parkway, much of Langford’s new YM-YWCA building’s size is hidden from view of the Westhills development that overlooks it. But facilities inside the under-construction, 62,000-square foot structure continue to grow each day.

Carrying on that theme, board chair and Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett announced a new name for the growing not-for-profit charitable organization, to a crowd gathered in the childcare space at the new Langford location on Tuesday.

The name YM-YWCA of Vancouver Island, Beckett noted, better reflects the growing list of services the Y offers Island residents, not just those in Victoria. “As our communities grow so does the demand,” he said.

After the announcement Beckett said, “It’s not the building so much as the services … the thing that really resonates with me is the value.” He added that families can access all of the Y facilities for one low monthly fee. “It’ll just be fantastic for families.”

Jennie Edgecombe YM-YWCA Vancouver Island CEO, said expanding operations in the region have “been in our strategic direction for a while.”

On a tour of the new facilities in Langford, Mayor Stew Young said “you can actually see it take shape.”

Not only will the facility be a great place for families, he added, it will be a needed complement to the many outdoor activities already in the area.

A new pool facility hasn’t been built since the Saanich Commonwealth Place pool in 1993, Young pointed out. “It was time for the region. Just think how much our population has grown.”

Under an agreement, Westhills Land Corporation is constructing the aquatic facilities, which the YM-YWCA will lease for 25 years. The City of Langford has guaranteed to buy services from the Y for the duration of the lease.

The new facilities at the Langford Westhills Y and the View Royal Eagle Creek Village Y are still on schedule to open in April 2016, although Edgecombe noted a specific opening date has not yet been set.

Roughly 60 new full-time jobs and 50 part-time jobs will be created by the two new facilities.

Upgrades in the future for Camp Thunderbird

Coinciding with Tuesday’s announcement at the new YM-YWCA facilities in Langford was the launch of a $2-million capital campaign to raise funds to reinvigorate Camp Thunderbird.

Local businessman, philanthropist and Camp Thunderbird alumni, Terry Farmer, is honorary campaign co-chair.

“If we are not careful, we will lose it,” he warned. “We will lose this treasured jewel due to neglect.”

Camp Thunderbird is a roughly 1,200-acre facility bordering Sooke and Metchosin off Sooke Road and is owned by the YM-YWCA of Vancouver Island.

At the time of the campaign’s launch, $840,000 had been raised towards that $2-million goal.

The campaign is also looking to raise funds for programs and equipment at the first new YM-YWCA of Vancouver Island expansion facilities, in View Royal and Langford.

– Katherine Engqvist

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