Campaign started to oppose YMCA project

Community members and businesses attach their names to campaign to stop city from supporting the YMCA

Fred Thiessen has started community campaign to voice opposition to a proposed YMCA project.

Fred Thiessen has started community campaign to voice opposition to a proposed YMCA project.

The debate over a controversial proposal to build a YMCA in Abbotsford will be back before council on Monday, April 8.

Fred Thiessen, a local businessman, made a presentation to council in January against the city’s proposed $17.5-million contribution to the project. The meeting drew about 150 concerned citizens, who heard presentations from Thiessen and a representative of the YMCA.

At Monday’s meeting, Thiessen will make another presentation, restating his opposition to the project.

The YMCA proposal was last discussed by council at the January meeting, but the process was postponed to allow new city manager George Murray – who took up his post in February – time to review the plan.

In the interim, Thiessen launched a campaign to encourage residents to “say no to the YMCA gift.” He has collected donations and endorsements from businesses and community members to run ads in local newspapers encouraging residents to voice their objection to the proposal.

The “informational public notices” encourage community members to contribute financially or attach their name to the ad, which directs readers to a website, saynototheymcagift.com.

The website outlines the group’s opposition to the project, stating they strongly object to any potential assistance for the YMCA project. The website says  it is against the community charter to give tax dollars to any business, including a not-for-profit such as the YMCA.

At press deadline, the YMCA was not scheduled to make a presentation.