The Vancouver Courier
Wednesday, March ??, 2007
By Sandra Thomas, Staff Writer
Greys Marshalling Forces
Seniors want a new centre at Killarney
A woman from the southeast part of the city is determined that organized grey power will prevail in the design and location of a new seniors' centre.
"As long as we show a united face," said Lorna Gibbs, who chairs the study group for the proposed Southeast Vancouver Seniors' Centre. "That's why seniors have got to attend the upcoming meeting."
Lorna Gibbs: "No reason to have a study, Killarney
is the place."
Gibbs said the meeting scheduled for April 1, is the best opportunity for seniors to tell the city what they want the new centre to include. In January city council passed a motion asking staff to explore potential funding sources, governance models and site/building selection, with a goal of developing a new seniors' centre in southeast Vancouver.
Gibbs said her community is in desperate need of such a centre. While there are six stand-alone seniors' centres west of Cambie Street, there are none east. According to the 2001 national census, more than 8.500 residents 65 years and older live within the boundaries of Cambie and Nanaimo streets, 41st Avenue and the waterfront.
Gibbs added that in the 1970s, a huge influx of people in their 40s and 50s moved into the area.
"And now they're all baby boomers," she said. "That dust cloud you see down the road is them coming. These are the seniors we need to awaken. We have to mobilize."
On January 18, Gibbs helped organize an event that saw two bus loads of seniors from southeast Vancouver converge on city hall asking council to support the motion and request that it be fast-tracked. Gibbs said that the fact that so many seniors turned out on one of the "meanest, slushiest" days of winter shows the determination and commitment they have. The seniors sat at city hall from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., waiting for their chance to speak at the public hearing.
Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louis brought the motion forward last November, but said it was deferred twice. He noticed the busloads of seniors who attended that Jan. 18 public hearing on East Fraser Lands made their demands known. The East Fraser Lands is a large housing and commercial development planned for the southeast part of the city.
"THey made it clear they were in support of the plan, but that support was contingent on having a seniors' centre," said Louis. "As politicians we have to listen to the voters."
He added that the issue has been ongoing since 2001 when money earmarked for seniors' centre in southeast Vancouver was diverted to complete the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House because provincial partnership funding for the new centre didn't materialize in time.
"Council of the day made that decision," said Louis. "But the expectation has been there since that there will be a seniors' centre built in that community."
Gibbs and other seniors also asked the city to build the centre as an addition to the Killarney Community Centre, where many already attend. It was reported earlier in the Courier that 2,000 seniors visit the community centre.
Killarney is on three bus routes," said Gibbs. "And it already has a pool and a huge field that's underutilized. It has all the amenities we need. I told the city there's no reason to have a study, I'm telling you Killarney is the place."
Keith Jacobson, president of the Killarney Community Centre Society, agrees.
"Seniors don't get together just to knit anymore." said Jacobson. "They want to take pottery classes and dance. We can already offer a lot of the physical activities they want."
Jocobson has been lobbying the municipal, provincial and federal governments since 2001 for funding for a seniors' centre at Killarney.
"I've been writing letters like crazy," said Jacobson. "We need this seniors' centre."
Gibbs said it's up to all seniors living in the area to have their voices heard. She added having a safe place to socialize, exercise, swim and listen to music is vital to seniors' health and in keeping their brain cells active.
"We have to convince them that the time to be involved, to be heard, to join the ranks is now," said Gibbs. "They must come out and tell us and the city what they think is important."
The meeting takes place at Killarney Community Centre, 6260 Killarney St, April 1 between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
© Vancouver Courier 2007