VANCOUVER "Aging with dignity is not a gift but a right," said seniors advocate Lorna Gibbs at an event Tuesday morning at the Killarney Community Centre.
"We have the largest, most diverse demographic in the city and we've been without a seniors centre. Soon that wrong will be put right."
Her comments came just moments after Conservative MP for Vancouver South Wai Young announced federal funding of $2.5 million towards a long-awaited seniors centre for Southeast Vancouver.
Gibbs, who was met with a standing ovation after she took the podium following the announcement, has lobbied tirelessly for more than a decade to have such a centre built. While the West Side of the city has seven seniors centres, Southeast Vancouver, home to an estimated 27,000 seniors, or a third of the city's seniors population, has none.
"For 15 years, community members have tirelessly advocated for a seniors centre in South Vancouver," Young told a large crowd gathered at the Killarney Community Centre Tuesday morning.
"Seniors who have given so much to our country deserve a top-notch facility. Located in the heart of our diverse community, this seniors centre will improve the quality of life for seniors from all backgrounds and provide an accessible space for recreation and socialization."
The Courier has been writing about the need for a seniors centre in Southeast Vancouver for most of those 15 years and as municipal, provincial and federal governments have come and gone, many promises were made and were not so much broken as they were never brought to fruition.
In 2009, the park board committed the land for a centre to be built adjacent to the Killarney Community Centre, while the city promised $2.5 million towards the project. Last year the province committed $1.3 million. It was hoped the remainder of the financing would come from Ottawa so Tuesday's announcement was well received.
The problem is the initial cost was estimated at $7.5 million, but since then has risen closer to $10 million. The $2.5 million comes from the Building Canada Fund Major Infrastructure Component. The 10,000-square-foot facility will include a reception area, six to eight meeting and multipurpose rooms, washrooms and office space.
On hand at the announcement were Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Aaron Jasper, NPA commissioner Melissa De Genova and Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie.
Young said a start date will depend on how quickly the funding is firmly on the table. She said the next step will be meetings with the city and Liberal MLA Suzanne Anton, a former city councillor and park board commissioner.
Gibbs ended her comments to the crowd with a not so subtle request that all three level of governments cooperate with a goal to see the project completed as soon as possible.
© Copyright Vancouver Courier