Seniors want a new centre

The Campbell River Seniors Society wants money from the city for its own space

The Campbell River Seniors Society wants money from the city for its own space.

The society has operated out of the Campbell River Common mall since July 1, 2010.

Bruno Fornika, chair of the seniors society, said while he’s thankful to Allan Edie, owner of the Common, it’s time for the seniors to have their own home.

“It has become obvious that the open area which forms the centre requires much remodelling and alteration before it becomes more useful to our members,” Fornika said. “We feel that it is time for our society to have its own dedicated space to purchase a building or renovate an existing building.”

Fornika, who was scheduled to make a presentation at Tuesday’s council meeting after the Mirror went to press, asked the city for $250,000 from the city’s gaming funds.

“We are also asking council to retain these funds until such time as they are required by our society,” Fornika said. “This amount will be used to renovate, alter or remodel any building which we are able to purchase, lease or have donated to our society.”

This is the second time in four years the Seniors Society has lobbied city council for funding for its own facility. The group made a presentation to the city’s Seniors’ Advisory Commission in February of 2009.

“We are saying much the same thing this time but we are coming again with four years of successful operation behind us,” Fornika said. “We still sell a nutritious, reasonably priced lunch and offer a variety of free activities. Our membership has recently exceeded 500 and, at last count, we had 136 volunteers. It is time to ask for our fair share of the grant money the city receives for seniors.”

The Seniors’ Centre has only been in existence since 2009 and in that time, has moved twice.

The centre opened on March 1, 2009 at Ironwood Place and sold a hot soup and sandwich lunch every Friday.

With the Seniors’ Centre quickly gaining in popularity, it wasn’t long before the space at Ironwood Place became too small. That’s when the Seniors Society approached Edie and the seniors moved into the current centre in the indoor mall.

Fornika said though the city has been well-intentioned in providing services for seniors, few have actually materialized.

“It is my understanding that when the Community Centre was being planned, some consideration was given to senior citizens and some thought was given that the second floor might be dedicated to use by the seniors, although this does not exist today,” Fornika said. “There are however several 50+ programs available in that age group today, many at additional cost to members.

“The Maritime Heritage Centre, when it was built, was also considered to have a senior citizen component, but none exists today.”

Fornika said as Campbell River’s demographics are changing, a space for seniors becomes more important.

“The population of 25 to 40-year-olds has decreased considerably as the jobs at the mill, in fishing and in forestry have declined,” he said. “Their houses have been purchased mainly by those who have decided to retire to beautiful Campbell River – the seniors citizens. The city needs a well-organized, thriving seniors’ centre to help keep them here and to keep them actively involved in the affairs of the city and out of the hospitals and care facilities. A seniors centre can do that.”