Dear Editor. I was invited by the Seniors Task Force President Bob Ingram, to attend a bus tour of the new Westbrooke Seniors’ Living and Activity Centre established at Pitt Meadows. This impressive four floor site encompasses 104 living units, some assisted living and an adjoining 9500 sq. ft Seniors’ Centre. Readers can view the pictures posted on the Elder Citizen Action Coalition web.site www.thecouncilclaw.ca The process took approximately 6 years from idea to completion.
Yet, at Mission, Seniors’ have not been afforded due respect, nor until recently, has the indifference by each level of government, notably Mission mayor and council, been abated and replaced with more respectful and meaningful dialogue. Sadly some eight or more years has lapsed since caring and progressive Seniors first raised the spectre of having their own Seniors Activity Centre. I have been actively trying to secure a site since 2008 and continue to lobby levels of Government to fund a new facility. It is incongruous that Mission may be one of the few Municipalities in B.C. to not have a Seniors Centre. At present an unacceptable arrangement exists to share the newly named Mission Community Activity Centre but until Seniors’ can perceive as their building, able to drop-in seven days per week anytime between 8am to 10pm, a major lack of support persists, thus, we believe the ‘build and they will come’ applies.
The new mayor and council along with appointed Seniors Task Force deserve encouragement, some applause and encouragement to proceed quickly. If, like Pitt Meadows, six more years of talk and review were contemplated, most local and active seniors will not witness a facility in their active life time likely. On the other hand, if funding and a site is quickly ascertained and a developer steps up we could witness much earlier. Finally, we are cautiously optimistic this coming May election may produce two new MLAs who will be more progressive and empathetic to seniors’ needs.
The Elder Citizen Action Coalition continues to advocate for a site to be established on District owned property adjacent the Leisure Centre. Simply a 3-4 story market housing, a designated number to be low cost Seniors’ housing and some assisted living suites, maybe in the 700 sq ft and larger size. We envisage a 10-12,000 sq. ft. Seniors Activity Centre, above/underground parkade, fee-for-service grant to operate by some full time, part time and largely Volunteers. Simply, an expanded version of the new Pitt Meadows site. As an alternative, ECAC would agree to a new similar facility, as part of a major Downtown Civic Centre development but suffice to say, some urgency to completion of a Seniors facility is paramount.
Last, in part probably, due to the unacceptable progress to date and failure by past mayor and councils, indeed MLAs to demonstrate any empathy or leadership, seniors may be forgiven their lack of enthusiasm or positive involvement. But this reticence by Seniors’ presents a double-edge sword scenario. First, lack of physical involvement due to a lack of available & consistent use of a seniors’ facility & lack of interesting activities discourage many to participate, thus, a lack of Volunteers. But the second side tends to pose a dilemma to politicians that witnessing lack of (active) public interest and volunteer involvement, they may be lulled to believe their indifference and lack of progress is justified. Indeed, Advocates like The Elder Citizen Action Coalition encounter unwelcome opposition, that makes progress difficult if not enjoying a large visible/vocal public support & encouragement base.
So, this letter may serve as an awakening call to all Seniors’ to get on board, make your support known, consult our web.site for more details on Seniors’ issues. As well, join the Mission Seniors Centre Association by attending the AGM Thursday March 7, 2013 at 10:30am at Mission Seniors’ Activity Centre, only $10.00 annual dues.
George F. Evens