New Y fees squeezing large families, members say

A new fee structure at the YMCA in Ottawa is punishing larger families, some clients say.

New YMCA family pass only covers 3 members

Julie Hagley, pictured above with her partner and four of her five children, says the YMCA's new family pass favours smaller families over larger ones like hers. (Courtesy Julie Hagley)

A new fee structure at the YMCA in Ottawa is punishing larger families, some clients say.

Julie Hagley's family of seven — two adults and five children ages six to 15 — used to pay $133 per month for a family pass at the National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA. 

It's kind of insulting.- Julie Hagley, YMCA member

As of Jan. 1, the Y lowered that fee to $99 per month, but limited the pass to a family of three people living at the same address. Each additional family member, including children, must now pay an extra $20 per month. 

For Hagley, that will mean a monthly fee of $179, or $40 more than the family used to pay.

"It's kind of insulting," Hagley said. "I feel like this benefits smaller families [more] than bigger families. There's not much out there for big families."

Cancelling membership

"My kids do programs there, art programs, there's one that's like gym class … my husband uses the gym, my 15-year-old uses the gym, I use the gym as well," she said.

Hagley's family will continue to pay the old rate until June 1, when she says they'll be cancelling their membership because it's too expensive.

National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA vice-president Rob Adams said the new fee was meant to simplify the family pass, which used to be offered at three different prices depending on service level.

Adams said the new pass offers all the perks of the former top-tier pass including yoga, swimming lessons and taekwondo, and is more "inclusive for families."

"I think it's economical across the board, especially compared to other plans outside the Y," Adams wrote in an email to CBC.

Adams said the new fee structure has nothing to do with Ontario's new minimum wage increase. He said financial aid is available to families that can't afford the new fees.

"Part of my mandate is that we don't turn anyone away," Adams wrote.

The Taggart Family YMCA-YWCA building on Argyle Street has a variety of fitness, aquatic and children's programs. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

With files from Trevor Pritchard,,,,,,,,,,