The Vancouver Courier
Friday, June 4, 2010
By Cheryl Rossi
Killarney seniors still without centre
Politicians point fingers at other levels of government
More than a year after the park board passed a unanimous motion asking staff to look at adding a seniors centre to the Killarney Community Centre, the project is no closer to fruition.
Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Raj Hundal said the park board would provide space for a centre if money was committed by the city and senior governments.
"We did everything that we can as a board," Hundal said. "And that was sending a strong message, which my motion did, that we are in support of a seniors centre in the southeast Vancouver area."
Lorna Gibbs, chair of the southeast Vancouver Seniors' Arts and Cultural Society, which has pushed hard to see a seniors centre established, said funding for a seniors centre didn't make the mayor's priority list for federal stimulus money. Vision Coun. Raymond Louie believes the centre was on the mayor's list but the project wasn't seen as viable by the federal government.
The mayor did not back to the Courier by press deadline.
Gibbs said a feasibility study requested by the city was completed in December for a minimum 10,000-square-foot space addition to the Killarney Community Centre. It was estimated to cost $6 million to build. Gibbs suggests the city, provincial and federal governments contribute $2 million each.
"It's not a case of lack of support from grassroots. This will be decided by political will," she said.
Southeast Vancouver is home to an estimated one-third of all the seniors in the city, or more than 26,000 seniors over age 65. The area has no community centre while Gibbs says eight seniors centres are located west of Cambie Street.
Gibbs says the multicultural services group SUCCESS needs more space to offer English as a second language classes and that seniors cultural groups need a place to meet. She said many seniors, especially those who have downsized to smaller homes, need a place where they can socialize, recreate, get peer support and eat a daily nutritious lunch.
Seniors can go to community centres for specific programs, but there's no place for them to just "hang out," Gibbs said.
"If you have somewhere to go hang out for four hours it's a great relief," Gibbs said. "Like Cheers, you want to go where everybody knows your name."
She argues healthy lunches and social interaction made possible through a seniors centre keeps seniors mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally heartier, keeping them out of costly long-term care.
Louie said the city is reviewing its capital projects and estimating costs to determine its ability to support various projects. Kash Heed, the Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview told the Courier last year that he'd take the lead on the project, including involving the federal government to make the seniors centre happen.
He could not be reached before the Courier's press deadline.
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