Jewish community centre to close its doors

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Anthony Abbondanza
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Declining clientele, increasing competition to blame: YM-YWHA

Mahin Goudarzi will no longer be able to walk to her nearby gym as the West Island Jewish Community Centre (WIJCC) in Pierrefonds is set to shut its doors after 28 years.

The Pierrefonds resident, who has used the centre’s gym for the last 12 years, was shocked to learn last week via email of the said closure on Oct. 31.

“This is something you don’t want to lose,” Goudarzi, an Iranian-Canadian, said. “Even though I’m not Jewish, this is a place that accepts all nationalities.”

With the exception of the government-subsidized, $7-a-day daycare in place, the gym, camps, and educational programs will be terminated as a result of a declining clientele and increased competition in the area, according to Ethel Smith, interim executive director of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (YM-YWHA), the organization which runs the West Island centre.

As a result of a shift in the demographics of the community, said Smith, the board of directors was forced to make the difficult decision.

“Yes, it’s disappointing to see that the association that has a location in the West Island has had to close, but it’s for valid reason. It can’t be sustained anymore,” she added.

About 450 people will lose their membership to the gym, as well as a handful of full – and – part-time employees. At its peak, the gym had 600 members.

Meanwhile, Goudarzi and other gym-goers will continue to rally the community to support their goal of keeping the gym open.

“We don’t want to go anywhere. This is a place for families to gather,” she said.

The WIJCC opened in 1986 before moving to its current location on Gouin Boulevard in 1997.

The YM-YWHA has served Montreal’s Jewish community since it was founded by 13 men in 1910. Its first ever location on Ontario Street in Montreal boasted but a few pool tables and little gym equipment until membership grew.

Over 100 years later, the YM-YWHA community consists of the Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre, the WIJCC, and the Y Country Camp.

@AAbbondanza1

Organizations: YM-YWHA, West Island Jewish Community Centre, Hebrew Association Young Men Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre

Geographic location: Pierrefonds, West Island, Montreal Gouin Boulevard Ontario Street Country Camp

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