Committee struck to review senior centre move

Sam Odrowski

The decision whether or not to relocate the senior centre is still being considered by its board.
At yesterday’s board meeting, the Fort Frances Senior Centre board established an ad hoc building committee that will begin meeting in January.

The committee will meet with various administration staff to collect information and discuss potential renovations at the Sister Kennedy Centre and vacant daycare building that is being considered as a new location for the senior centre.

The committee will then review all information collected by the senior centre board thus far and make a recommendation on their findings.

Move opposed

Meanwhile, a group of vocal seniors strongly oppose the move and would prefer to stay on Nelson Street, where the centre is currently located.

“It’s taking the senior centre from a perfect downtown location where all the seniors can go and enjoy it,” said Margaret Bartel, one of the centre’s regulars.

“It’s right downtown, it’s near the clinic, the hospital, and everything.”

Bartel said there’s also several seniors from Columbus Place who walk to the centre because its next door and they would no longer be able to access the centre by foot if it’s relocated.

Senior centre board chairperson Coun. Wendy Brunetta said the daycare was declared surplus earlier this year and the town is currently assessing if it would be a good fit.

The need for a larger facility for seniors has been identified by those who use the centre and want more room for activities, apart from playing cards.

“We just felt whenever people were trying to run two activities, it was very disruptive,” Coun. Brunetta noted.

She said it has been difficult for staff and volunteers to accommodate different senior centre users at the current site.

Although, surveys conducted by the senior centre board have indicated that a large majority of seniors oppose relocating, according to Brunetta.

A ballpark cost estimate has been conducted by the board through the town’s former chief building official which revealed it would cost $400,000 to renovate the current centre in an effort to create more space.

The daycare would also have to undergo some minor renovations if it became the new senior centre and a cost estimate is currently being completed.

Meanwhile, Bartel said mobility concerns appear to be the greatest disadvantage to relocating.

“They want to move us to is like six or seven blocks away and it’s too far for any of the seniors to walk,” she noted.

“Anyone that would be going to the new place would have to get a ride and we don’t have a bus service in Fort Frances.

“Over at the place they want to send us to, it’s on a street that doesn’t even have sidewalks,” Bartel added.

She said some of the benefits of the current location are cathedral ceilings and an open concept layout that’s accommodating of wheelchairs and walkers.

While the daycare is about a third larger than the current centre, at 7,000 square feet, the low ceilings and layout isn’t ideal, according to Bartel.