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24 Hours Vancouver
Sunday, January 19, 2014
By David P. Ball

Killarney to finally get own seniors centre

One third of city's seniors live in southeast Vancouver

Killarney Community Centre. Carmine Marinelli, 24 Hours
Killarney Community Centre

VANCOUVER — A longtime advocate for the first dedicated seniors centre for Killarney is "thrilled to pieces" by Vancouver's announcement Sunday it was planning to top up federal and provincial funding to build the $7.5-million project.

Southeast Vancouver is home to a third of the city's seniors, according to the City of Vancouver. Mayor Gregor Robertson said he'd put a $1.2-million funding motion to council on Tuesday.

"I'm absolutely delighted that the mayor has come forward with this extra funding," said Killarney resident Lorna Gibbs, who has campaigned for the centre since 2003.

Robertson said the city would add surplus operating funds in addition to its $2.5 million commitment. Ottawa promised $1.3 million for the project two weeks ago, adding to last year's $2.5 million provincial pledge.

"It's time to get shovels in the ground on a new Killarney seniors centre," Robertson stated. "The City of Vancouver's strong budget position allows us to invest in key priorities for the community."

Gibbs said the centre is "absolutely essential" for seniors, many of whom struggle with loneliness and isolation.

"As time goes by, families move away, spouses die, it's very important that seniors remain contributing members of the community," she said. "This will help them do that."

For Killarney Community Centre Society president Ainslie Kwan, the city's announcement is something area seniors have "been waiting for, for a long, long time." But she also questioned the timing of the news, which came two days after the B.C. Supreme Court blocked Vancouver Park Board from evicting six community centre associations in an ongoing legal battle.

"I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth," Kwan told 24 hours. "We're thrilled the funding is there, and we're willing to work hard and make this centre a reality.

"We're just hoping that, because of all the bad press with us being successful with our injunction, that this is simply not a reaction from Vision to squash some of that bad press ... Let's get this out of court and not make this an issue that will follow Vision Vancouver into an election."

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