Mehdi Zobeiry, general manager of the Steve & Sally Stavro Family YMCA on Kingston Road, stands in front of the facility’s 25-meter swimming pool during a tour with Beach Metro Community News last Friday. The swimming pool has an accessible access ramp. There is also a pool lift chair at the facility. Inset photo, the new Y’s full-size gym is ready for action from August 15. Photos by Alan Shackleton.

By ALAN Shackleton

After a long wait, the Steve & Sally Stavro Family YMCA on Kingston Road will officially open on August 15th.

And beginning Wednesday, July 20, area residents are invited to register and book tours of the 63,990 square foot facility located on the south side of Kingston Road between Beech and Balsam Avenues.

Work on the new YMCA, which includes a condominium building above, began with a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2015. The opening was scheduled for October 2020, but that did not happen.

“Yeah, the development process hasn’t been the smoothest,” Mehdi Zobeiry, executive director of the Steve & Sally Stavro Family YMCA, said during a facility tour with Beach Metro Community News in the aftermath. – noon on Friday July 15.

“Then it was impacted by COVID-19,” he added.

“Two and a half years of pandemic have turned a lot of things upside down. But we had to have the building finished and safe (before we could open).

Excitement and some frustration built in the east Toronto community as the above condos were seen to be lived in and people looking out of the Y’s ground floor windows saw a full swimming pool. People wondered why the establishment hadn’t opened yet and were baffled by the delay.

Zobeiry said he saw and heard this during his interactions with residents while he was on hand to help put the finishing touches.

“Every day when I opened the door, people asked us when we opened,” he said. “We know the community is looking forward to the opening and we’ve heard a lot about it. We are very happy to announce the opening.

Nora Gorman, senior vice president of marketing communications for the YMCA of Greater Toronto, thanked the community for their patience.
“We are grateful and appreciate the patience of the community,” said Gorman, who also appeared on the July 15 tour with Beach Metro Community News.

Operated by the YMCA of Greater Toronto, the Stavro facility replaces the former East City Y on the site which was built in the 1950s. The East City Y was much smaller and did not have a swimming pool.

The new Y features three pools: a 25-metre, four-lane pool with a ramp that makes it fully accessible; a fitness and therapeutic pool with a movable bottom to control the depth; and a hot tub on the pool deck.

The facility will also include a fitness/weight room, multi-purpose fitness studios, meeting rooms and a full-size gymnasium.

Zobeiry said the Stavro Family Y will be a community center for people of all ages and abilities because it is fully accessible.

“We look forward to people coming in and using the facility,” he said.

As is the case with many YMCA facilities, they are quickly becoming community gathering places offering a wide variety of uses for residents that go beyond fitness and swimming and into programs for youth and old people.

“There will be multi-purpose rooms that groups can use, and youth leadership programs, hangouts… We have something for every age,” Zobeiry said.

Since it is a charitable organization, the YMCA of Greater Toronto emphasizes the inclusion of all members of the community in its programs and offers financial assistance to families who may need it to help to cover the costs associated with membership.

“It’s not just a fitness center. It’s a place where kids learn to swim, kids get their first jobs as lifeguards, work at camp or go to camp, become lifeguards. youth,” Zobeiry said. “We are a community center, as opposed to just a community center.

In the press release announcing the August 15 opening date, YMCA of Greater Toronto President and CEO Medhat Mahdy said the facility will play an important role in helping bring life back to normal. for many people after the pandemic.

“We know the community has been eagerly awaiting an opening date for the Steve & Sally Stavro Family YMCA and we look forward to opening our doors,” said Mahdy. “We are confident that this center will help improve the physical and mental well-being of local residents – which is even more important as we emerge from the pandemic.”

The new Kingston Road Y was made possible by many donors who supported the YMCA’s Strong Start, Great Future fundraising campaign, including the Steve & Sally Stavro Family Foundation. The Y is named for the Stavro family’s deep connection to the East Toronto community and their support of the charity, including a $1 million gift from the Steve & Sally Stavro Family Foundation, says the press release.

“Avid sportsman, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Steve Stavro and his family settled in what was then the emerging East End in 1932. Founder of the Toronto City Soccer Club, Stavro later became the majority owner of the Maple Leafs of Toronto and the Toronto Raptors, bringing the two franchises together to create Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment,” the press release read. “The designation of the center was also supported by a $2 million gift from an anonymous donor and numerous contributions from additional donors. Together, the generous support of our donors means that residents of Toronto’s east end enjoy expanded access to essential services and inclusive community spaces.

To find out more or to arrange a tour of the Steve & Sally Stavro Family YMCA on Kingston Road starting July 20, please go to https://stavrofamily.ymcagta.org/

The opening of the new Y will take place on August 15, but a grand official opening ceremony with dignitaries and special guests is planned for this fall.