Campbell River council bumps up rent-free hours for seniors

City council has granted the Seniors’ Society a slight increase in the amount of hours the group can use the Sportsplex rent-free

City council has granted the Seniors’ Society a slight increase in the amount of hours the group can use the Sportsplex rent-free.

Council upped the time from 13.75 hours per week to 15 hours per week.

Rent-free time at the Community Centre remains at nine hours per week.

Council last summer waived rental fees and staff costs for the Seniors’ Society use of both spaces but now the seniors want for more hours.

“The society has been requesting additional hours to host programs, special events and fundraisers,” said Lynn Wark, the city’s recreation and culture manager.

“Staff are not clear if the intention of the resolution is that these additional requests are to be provided at no cost.”

Wark said the problem is the city’s 2014 budget contains $75,000 for the seniors’ use of the facilities but that does not account for additional rent-free hour requests.

Wark added that it’s a balancing act between accommodating the seniors and ensuring other users still have the opportunity to use both the Sportsplex and Community Centre.

“In an effort to ensure that all interest groups are served, it is important to consider that any additional space requested by the Seniors’ Society should not displace current recreation programs, special events or rentals,” Wark said.

Council in the end elected to grant the seniors free use of the Community Centre for nine hours per week and the Sportsplex for 15 hours each week.

Council also stipulated that each request from the seniors for additional hours of use be brought to council by the Seniors’ Society for approval and necessary budget changes.

Meanwhile, the seniors are still looking to open and operate their own seniors centre since being displaced from the Campbell River Common Mall last year.

Since re-locating, membership in the Seniors’ Society has dwindled from around 650 to approximately 250 members, largely due to the location of Sportsplex which hosts the seniors’ lunch.

The Sportsplex is out of walking distance for most of the members and is much further away from the Community Centre transit depot than the former seniors centre in the mall.

The Seniors’ Society has gone before city council several times to ask for help. Council for its part decided to help the seniors by providing space in its facilities rent free.