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Lawyer, philanthropist gets naming rights to Coquitlam YMCA after $3M gift

Donation from Peter Allard results in Coquitlam YMCA being named after his mother.

The YMCA is a year away from opening its new digs in Burquitlam.

But it won’t be named after a Coquitlam resident or anyone connected to the city.

Rather, the new facility will take its name from the mother of a large donor: Peter Allard.

The moniker for the Bettie Allard YMCA, which was revealed last Saturday, is the result of a $3-million contribution to the organization by Peter Allard in memory of his mother.

Bettie Allard, a single mother of four who passed away in 2014, was a teacher at Rosser and Confederation Park elementaries in Burnaby, as well as a community volunteer.

It’s the first time in the YMCA Canada’s history that a facility will bear the name of one woman.

“The new Coquitlam YMCA centre was a particularly appropriate choice to honour Bettie Allard’s legacy because, like us, she was committed to youth, education and building healthy communities. Her forward-thinking approach to leading an active life and protecting the environment were ahead of her time,” said Stephen Butz, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver in a news release.

Peter Allard made the large donation as part of the Y’s What Really Matters capital campaign, which is now 85 per cent funded.

A well-known Vancouver lawyer and philanthropist, Peter Allard lost his court battle against UBC earlier this year to have his name printed on every degree that was awarded to students who graduated from the law school in his name.

It’s not the first time he’s given to the YMCA.

Although his gift for the Coquitlam YMCA is his biggest to date, he’s also donated to the Tong Louie Family YMCA in Surrey and the Robert Lee YMCA in Vancouver, a spokesperson told the Tri-City News.

In a YMCA release, Peter Allard said his family is honoured to have his mother’s name on the Burquitlam venue, as she was active in sports and spent her time helping others.

“I am particularly pleased that my mother’s name will be associated with a centre that will act as a social hub, bringing people together and helping them reach their potential,” he stated in the news release. “The Y’s sustainable charity model will enable the Bettie Allard YMCA to consistently deliver vital services to the community for current and future generations.”

Due to open next fall, the Y will be a 55,000-sq. ft. centre at 555 Emerson St. — built by Concert Properties, which is constructing high-rises in the same vicinity —  that will offer “swim lessons for children, mental wellness groups for teens, fitness classes for seniors, English language classes and social groups for Canadian newcomers and affordable childcare for all kinds of families,” Butz said.

As for its $25-million What Really Matters capital campaign, the YMCA also launched the public portion last Saturday.

If you wish to contribute to the campaign, you're encouraged to visit the YMCA's donation page.