Dear Editor. A Senior Colleague of many years, Frank Sleigh published some thoughts in the Mission Record November 7, 2014 essentially seeking our new Councils support & cooperation if a practical proposal is brought forward?
Let me hasten to add on several notable occasions since 2006 when I first became an Advocate for Seniors’ and notably a Seniors’ Activity Centre, we could have proceeded with development, if funding was available. Sadly, it was not until part way though CRMG tenure that any empathy, compassion or honest interest emerged. Until then, it was total indifference by successive Councils toward one of Mission greatest assets and indeed, founders of near everything that exists at Mission, paid in large part from Seniors’ taxes.
Seniors’ account for approximately 10,000 Citizens/Voters 55 years and older or more relevant 5000 at 65+ years. We are a time sensitive bunch and far too many Seniors’ who have been ignored have now passed on. Sadly, the hope of many is dashed, in these circumstance and the quest to “enjoy a Seniors’ Activity Centre in our life time is not realized”. Eight years and counting, waiting patiently and often growing too old to care, unfullfilled & ignored by disrespectful behaviour by too many over many long years – enough, it is time to act now without delay!
The other annoying aspect concerns urgency to proceed but in the context of effective and appropriate planning, financing, governance plans and so forth but some try to rationalize their delays by trying to malign this stated sense of progress and urgency, by stalling and suggesting, “it takes time and diligence to do things right”, never thinking, in fact, predecessors had done due diligence and proper planning, we are now frustrated, at lack of progress by new incumbents and resent their condescending implications. Most Seniors’ have no idea what is happening on their behalf but eager to join our ranks.
Indeed, we are now looking at a new Mayor & Councillors, already new Planning Department, a pending proposal by the Seniors’ Task Force, now standing in obeisance, having spent the past year studying the needs and alternative approaches. To a large extent reviews, discussion and proposals have been private under the pretence, in part, certain real estate or financing may not be suitable to release to the public yet. Conditions like some financing, grants and such could only proceed when the District owned applicable lands.
The first site was indeed on District owned land adjacent and adjoining the Leisure Centre. Another suggested site was the recently purchased “Buy-Low Grocery” site but upon questioning why the delay on building on this ideal central site, I was shocked, as most likely were, that a different (maybe) un-owned site was being considered, which fits the long pattern of bad leadership decisions and need for more money – why not incorporate into the Welton Common site complex?
The concept of a self-standing dedicated Seniors’ Centre, not a multigenerational structure is still the preferred facility, not shared with youth or children. In an autonomous structure, Seniors’ have the option to invite guests, rent space available at their discretion, and logistics of a fully furnished centre preclude shared use, except discretion to rent a large sectional ballroom/kitchen. Facility is to be owned by the District, Governed by Seniors’ and patterned after the Maple-Ridge or newly open Port Coquitlam, in a 12, 000 sq. ft. (not 10,000 sq. ft. planned) cement structure for safety, with multi-use housing, from 600-700 sq.ft. low-cost affordable Seniors’, ranging to market value larger units, on a two or three level building, with housing sales revenue anticipated to cover most development costs of the Seniors’ Activity Centre, with adjacent under/above ground parking, if adequate ground level is not suitable.
Last, because Seniors’ lack funds they have assumed a subservient role and it is my sense this role must change with Council planning with Seniors’, not for them and a power rightly being by Seniors’ governance and decision making insofar as needs to be met. The same perspective and goals dating back to 2006 or earlier, just possibly different than some opinions by current leaders, hence part of the dilemma, one Seniors’ segment not in concert with all seniors’ needs and dominating the Mayors ear to chagrin of others with equal or growing popularity of process.
The final frontier includes a major membership drive to bolster Seniors’ presence and power and strength of numbers, including voting power to elect each level of Government. Candidates vying for Council office ought to make their support for Seniors’ known, if they agree with this prospectus.
George F. Evens