An expansion and renovation project in St. James is aiming to provide more programs to senior citizens, make use of a typically vacant community centre, and bring generations together.
Seniors and board members at the St. James Assiniboia 55+ Centre (203 Duffield St.) want to move their activities from the third floor of the Deer Lodge Centre to the main floor of the St. James Civic Centre Complex (2055 Ness Ave.) and increase their educational, physical, and social programs while they’re at it.
Connie Newman, St. James Assiniboia 55+ Centre board member, said the plan is to renovate existing space as well as add new construction to the Civic Centre.
"We are going to add office space on the east side," Newman, co-chair of the Civic Centre capital campaign, explained while referencing a blueprint of the project. The plan also features a multi-purpose and carpentry room.
"This building hasn’t had any renovation done since its original construction... And it needs to be refurbished," Newman said.
Right now, the project is in its capital campaign phase, raising enough funds to turn vision into reality. The 55+ centre held a pledge month in August, so now they are finding ways to make up the difference.
The project, as outlined in the campaign booklet, is expected to cost around $5.6 million.
Newman said that this project is a four-way partnership between the 55+ Centre and the three levels of government.
Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) said he had provided the project with about $300,000 to develop the plan, but insists that the rest of the money is contingent upon the other levels of government.
"There’s a lot of steps that need to happen to make this go ahead. We’re hopeful that everyone comes to the table with the dollars and cents to make it a reality," Fielding said.
Newman said usually, during the day, the centre is not as busy as the evenings, so if the seniors were to hold their activities at this location during the day, the building would be getting used 18 hours a day in total.
Scott Gillingham, co-chair of the capital campaign, said programs and funds aside, the value of the centre lies within the possibility for intergenerational bonding.
"You’ve got little kids coming for swimming lessons. They come in and they see their grandma or grandpa who are participating in their own programs. It becomes a facility for every generation to use," Gillingham said.
For more information about the project, as well as access to the donation form, visit stjasc.com