Kent Street Activity Centre is in desperate need of more space to provide for its growing senior-clientele, according to the centre’s committee, which presented its plans for expansion to White Rock City council last week.
During the July 11 meeting, the Kent Street Activity Centre Expansion Proposal Committee made a presentation to council.
The group recommended an Independent Needs Assessment for the centre, which council approved unanimously.
Expanding the Kent Street Activity Centre is essential for the business’ COVID recovery, the committee argued, adding that added space is crucial for the local senior population, because they were significantly affected by isolation-measures.
“What’s the problem? Well, in a word, space,” shared committee member, Bob Zoltok.
“We’re jammed, we’re crammed, we don’t have enough space. It’s impacting our programs, it’s impacting our growth and it’s impacting our potential for revenue.”
Because the centre has not been updated to reflect the growing number of members and visitors they receive, Kent Street Centre has to take measures that aren’t ideal.
“We are being forced to juggle and re-arrange programs because we don’t have the room. We are turning away people who want to use our facility because we can’t handle them,” Zoltok said.
The centre often sees long line-ups of people eager to attend the activities and events, but not everyone gets to enjoy the limited space.
“The auditorium could do with a face-lift. We could do with a ramp to get onto the stage. The lighting controls, the audio, all of these things could be cleaned up, improved and open the way for maybe a wider use of that auditorium for local film shows and stage shows,” said committee member Clive Griffiths.
White Rock’s population, since the opening of the centre in 1973, has more than doubled, the committee noted, adding that the city has a significant older-adult population reflected in that growth. Still, they argue, the centre’s expansion has not matched the growth seen in attendance.
During their presentation, the committee cited the CHASI Report 2022, which concluded that most White Rock residents are in favour of more buildings dedicated to activities for the senior population.
The report also discusses the need for more affordable housing for seniors, Coun. Erika Johanson noted as an important issue.
“Why not build seniors affordable housing on that spot and include a better seniors Kent Street Activity Centre? I’d like to have that discussed with council,” she suggested.
In response, Mayor Darryl Walker suggested council focus on one issue at a time.
“While one of our key issues and has been for almost four years is affordable housing, we haven’t necessarily moved to any large degree on that.
“My concern is that if we throw something else into it, it’s going to become more arduous and more difficult to simply deal with Kent Street, and I think that’s the piece that the people in the room here tonight are interested in,” Walker said.
Coun. Scott Kristjanson indicated his support, saying that expansions for the centre are “long overdue.”
“I think seniors in White Rock deserve more,” Kristjanson added.
In a unanimous decision, council approved the committee’s request, at an estimated cost of $25,000 to be shared with the Kent Seniors Society.
The next White Rock council meeting is set for July 25.