News that the Board of Directors of the YM-YWHA Jewish Community Centres of Montreal (the Y) has voted to close the West Island Jewish Community Centre (WIJCC) as of October 31 has been met with great dismay and some opposition.
|A shot of some people exercising at the WIJCC this week.|
“Facing a demographic shift of the West Island Jewish Community, declining membership of our intended target market, numerous competing fitness facilities and competitive early childhood education programs, the Y considered a number of scenarios vis-à-vis the long-term viability of our WIJCC,” YM-YWHA president Joel Shalit wrote in a message. “Together with Federation CJA, we carefully weighed our options and in the end, the Board arrived at this difficult conclusion.”
|Scenes like this will soon be a thing of the past at the WIJCC.|
Some members are not accepting the decision. Pat Libling and some friends have launched a petition that members are signing. “We are also hoping many in the community will do so as well,” she says. “The support has been strong we hope to reverse the closing. The decision was made without consulting the Y members and we are requesting a meeting with the executive. The last thing we want is a Jewish institute closing on the West Island.”
Shalit said he, too, has heard from some disgruntled Y members. “The closure is, indeed, unfortunate,” he said. “It is a decision I wish the Y did not have to make. Membership at the WIJCC has dropped from approximately 550 to 450 members over the past couple of years.
The WIJCC opened in 1986, moved to its current location in the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds in 1997, and expanded in 1999, with support from the Y Board, the Montreal Jewish Community and Federation CJA. Even with the closure, the West Island CPE du Y daycare will continue to operate.
Steve Rothstein, a member of the WIJCC and a former board member, expressed his deep regret over the news. “I am very upset, “ he said. “I have enjoyed the community environment of the Y and have built friendships with many members. The major problem is the location and hours of operations. It should be near Sources Boulevard, Marché de la Ouest, the Civic Center or near one of the synagogues or at the CJA. The current location adds extra travel time and is out of the way. It also should be every day, with the exception of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. What is nice is that everyone who works out at the facility knows everyone. It is a much more friendly atmosphere than almost any other gym in the West Island.”
|Rabbi Zeitz (right) and his wife Charlotte.,|
Steven Slimovitch, national legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada and a long time West Island resident, calls the decision “most unfortunate, whether justified or not. It is essential that the Jewish community living in the West Island have a "Jewish home" and not simply be left to fend for itself.”