By Thomas Goyer 
BELLEVILLE – The first steps toward a new YMCA for Belleville are underway as city council announced its support Tuesday for the project, pledging $1 million.
The $22.5 million plan would see a new building erected in the west end of the city, on Bridge Street West near the Quinte Curling Club, between Stinson and Sidney streets. It would replace the 55-year-old Y in the east end, on Victoria Street near Rollins Drive.
The YMCA and its partners would contribute $5 million, while $9 million would come from the federal government’s infrastructure investment plan  and $7.5 million from the provincial government. The remaining $1 million is the amount council agreed to pay on Tuesday.
The federal and provincial funding have not yet been assured, but Mayor Mitch Panciuk said that whatever happens, the city is “fully behind” the new building.
David Allen, chief executive officer of the Y, said the new building has been a long time coming.
“I’m 55 years old and I look good, but my building doesn’t,” he said after Tuesday’s council meeting.
The new facility would be called the Centre for Life and would be a partnership between the YMCA, Quinte Vocation Support Services  and Volunteer Information Quinte . The three services would share the space and focus on mental health and physical fitness.
“This Centre for Life will deliver more health and wellness programs and more social-service programs to a traditionally underserved population of our community,” Allen said.
The YMCA has been a staple of the east end of Belleville for almost 60 years. But Allen said research shows that the west end is an area of growth and will allow the Y to “have the biggest impact on the community.”
He’s not worried about people being upset at the facility moving, he said.
“If they are a member of the Y now, that means that they really enjoy and believe in the organization. And now they are going to get a modern facility.
“Our city is not that big and it’s just a quick trip across town.”
The target date for completion of the new facility is 2025-26.