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Loss of longstanding organizations could be sign of the times

Ron Walter writes about the loss of the YMCA and other struggling organizations in the city
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

Several long-lived social features in Moose Jaw face an uncertain future, or none at all.

The Y has announced closure of its main building in Crescent Park and the gym in the Co-op Marketplace while the Regina Y will take over the 250 child care spaces run by the Moose Jaw Y.

Both local seniors’ organizations face uncertain futures. The Moose Jaw Seniors’ Association at Timothy Eaton Centre is running out of reserves to finance ongoing deficits.

The Cosmo Senior Centre is in better financial shape but would have difficulty coping with a sudden large unexpected expense.

The local Royal Canadian Legion branch posts losses as an aging membership diminishes.

Some observes might consider difficulties by these volunteer groups as mismanagement by continuing to provide the same services while losing money. All of these groups have tried cutting costs, or increasing fees, with no success.

Loss of community wellness and health programs from the Y creates a gap in the city as would loss of recreational, health programs and social gathering opportunities by seniors.

Funding from the city or the province appears a non-starter. The province has no spare cash and the governing philosophy generally opposes grants from government to private organizations.

The city, which 30 years ago had an annual budget around $400,000 for local organizations, has no extra cash. In the case of the two seniors’ groups, if there is no amalgamation, city council will likely wash its hands of the matter.

One can try and fault these organizations for not attracting more new members.

The Legion Dominion Command shot its new member hopes in the foot years ago when agreeing to new veterans’ pension benefits plan.

The Y and both seniors’ groups have faced intense competition for members’ time.

Once the premier gym in Moose Jaw, the Y’s near monopoly role has been usurped by numerous privately-owned gyms and fitness centres with loss of revenues to sustain youth and wellness programs.

Seniors are not lining up to join either organization in this city.

The new growing generation of seniors is more active and seeks different styles of recreation and relaxation than the card games, dancing, pool, and floor shuffleboard mainly offered by these two groups. Witness the popularity of pickle ball games in attracting new people.

Many of the seniors in these two organizations moved to Moose Jaw from out of town and found the organizations a great way to meet people and become involved in the community. That inflow of new residents has slowed as rural population decline.

The right thing for government to do in the name of wellness and reducing future government health and policing costs would be financial support – a highly unlikely outcome.

The requests for assistance will be swept under the carpet, termed a social shift in needs in this digital age. The community will be the loser.

Ron Walter can be reached at