by Lorna Gibbs, President of the South Vancouver Seniors Arts & Cultural Society - SVSACS
Seniors in Southeast Vancouver have never had a dedicated centre where they can assemble, meet to share information, enjoy a meal in company with peers or stage a play or a concert. There are such centres in other parts of the City but Southeast Vancouver has been overlooked.
Most of you know the effort made by seniors to get funding together for the construction of a centre. And we did it by December of 2014. We’re grateful to the City of Vancouver for getting the ball rolling with land set aside at Killarney Community Centre and 2.5 Million dollars towards construction.
Since then, the Provincial Government and the Federal Government have each contributed 2.5 Million making a total of 7.5 Million dollars in the fund at the end of the year.
So, Meetings were held and planning was in progress albeit with a few challenges. Then, all communication and work came to a stop in May.
It appears, the latest challenge is the question of governance. Or in simple terms, who is going to run it. We think the solution is easy. We would prefer the same Board of community volunteers who live in the community and know the Members.
Some seniors have written to the Press, Jeff Lee in the Vancouver Sun printed the letters and so did the Vancouver Courier. We thank them for their support. Here are excerpts from the letters.
We moved into the Victoria-Killarney area in ’62. The Killarney Community Centre (KCC) opened in ’63 after Killarney residents raised $40K (equivalent to $320,000 today) to get the Centre underway. The KCCS Board has been very successful in managing and expanding this facility and they have served the community well. They are closes to the community and aware of community needs. They are an asset to our community we cannot afford to lose.
The impasse distresses me on two points:- The delay in construction means that many seniors may not live to enjoy the facility; - If the City is successful in relegating the KCCS Board to a bit player, the Society may well fold as those who now volunteer may decide that their services are not appreciated nor respected Volunteer Societies have been a backbone of Canada’s communities for generations and are one of the reasons for our continued prosperity.
I have been a member of the South Vancouver Seniors Arts & Cultural Society for 7 years. I work with many dedicated seniors who have been lobbying City Hall, the Parks Board & other politicians to build a Seniors Centre at the Killarney Community Centre for 20 years.
We were delighted when all the money required was collected & our Centre was a go. We had the land, the City was considering designs for the building (albeit working very, very slowly) & we as a group were feeling reasonably confident. Imagine our dismay when we find out that everything is now on hold.
The City is stalling, the Park Board is stalling (Mr. Coupar says “it is complicated”) because the Councillors at City Hall have raised the issue of “ownership”. Politicians, this is appalling and unacceptable! You are playing politics with seniors who have worked so hard, seniors whose own health is failing. Please, stop the game playing. Build our Centre!!
I am devastated to hear that the work on the new Seniors Centre has halted. After all these years of working to get this far we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel then suddenly, nothing. Will we not see this much needed centre for the south east Vancouver seniors in our lifetime?
You know, we will not just go away, in fact seniors numbers are rapidly increasing. Why punish seniors by withholding the centre they need.
It is, indeed, a big shock and disappointment for us seniors to read the Vancouver Sun article re. a stall in the building of the Seniors Centre for which a tremendous effort, spearheaded by Lorna Gibbs, has been made.
It has taken 20 years, and it was a joyous occasion when we were told that the Seniors Centre would become a reality. We are being deprived of what we have fought for, and it is a shame!! Let us not be the victims of a legal battle – let construction go on while the Park Board and Killarney Community Association sort out their problems.
Recent Articles posted online about this story:
• The Vancouver Sun - Vancouver community centres’ lawsuit stalls senior centre
• The Vancouver Courier - Another impasse for new Vancouver seniors centre
We welcome you to write your local newspapers about how you feel about this issue of our Senior's Centre being stalled.
Here are email addresses for:
The Vancouver Sun:
and the Vancouver Sun Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Vancouver Courier:
*We also always welcome your comments and feedback on this post below...