Following a heart attack caused by chemotherapy for his throat cancer, Tim Cole was referred to the YMCA’s Healthy Heart program.
The medically supervised classes at Confederation Community Centre in North Burnaby taught Cole, 73, to exercise and eat better on his path to recovery.
And it worked so well the retired civil aviation inspector was able to regain his pilot’s medical clearance and begin flying his hobby plane once more.
“This program, to me, assists me not only in my health but in following my passion as a senior,” he said.
But Cole said he is worried he and many of the 40 or so others who participate in the Healthy Heart program at Confederation will lose the opportunity to attend classes.
The YMCA recently informed participants the program would be moved in September to Vancouver’s Thunderbird Community Centre on Cassiar Street, about a block west of Boundary Road.
“Yes, it’s only about 10 minutes away from the existing centre, but they’ve … moved it into what, being politically correct, I would say is a socially challenged neighbourhood,” Cole said.
Cole said most of his friends who attend the three weekly sessions – which teach everything from fitness routines to heart-healthy grocery shopping – won’t make the move to Vancouver and will lose out on “just a super, super program.”
The move has become necessary due to high costs from the City of Burnaby, according to Kelly Walker, the YMCA’s acting vice-president of marketing and communications.
The YMCA does not pay to use Confederation Centre but the city charges a per-participant fee that’s three to four times higher than other cities, she said.
“It’s just too expensive,” she said.
The City of Burnaby’s director of parks, recreation and cultural services painted a different picture.
“Our analysis was that, overall, our costs were not any higher for this program than any other municipality is offering for similar type of program,” Dave Ellenwood said.
“We don’t particularly understand why (the YMCA) sort of abruptly wanted to move it into Vancouver.”
Ellenwood said the city wants to preserve the program at Confederation and is willing to take over administration from the YMCA. He said he’s confident the city will be able to do so before the September move.
“It’s a cost that we’re willing to bear to keep the service alive,” he said.
Walker said the YMCA will administer its Healthy Heart program at Thunderbird regardless.
“The Y has a long waitlist for the YMCA Healthy Heart program and will offer the program at Thunderbird regardless of whether or not the City of Burnaby decides to offer the program at Confederation Centre.”