Senior Centre won’t relocate

Sam Odrowski

The Fort Frances Senior Centre is staying where it’s currently located on Nelson Street and will not be moved to the Fort Frances Daycare, following the approval of a report at Monday night’s council meeting.

Council had asked the centre’s board to consider a potential move to the former Fort Frances Daycare building, which became surplus for the town when the province mandated that childcare centres be moved to elementary schools.

The Senior Centre Board investigated which facility would best meet the needs of the Centre’s users, as issues have been ongoing regarding space for concurrent activities.

A recommendation was brought forward to council by the board to move forward with pursuing funding for a renovation at the current location.

“The board underwent the process of identifying factors, weighting those factors and then scoring each location to determine which location is most suitable,” noted Coun. Wendy Brunetta, who sits on the Senior Centre Board.

“While the current location scored the lowest, it was also scored with a possible addition which scored the highest,” she added.

“The major factor that shifted preference to the current location was due to the fact that renovation costs to the daycare were extremely high and still didn’t include costs for expanding the parking lot, converting the current garage into a workable shop, nor addressing the needed repairs to windows and siding.”

The renovation estimate at the daycare was approximately $500-600,000, while a 24×60 foot addition to the Senior Centre would $280,000-360,000 or a 30×60 foot addition would be $360,000 to $450,000.

The weighted factors to determine the Senior Centre Board’s decision on whether to relocate included location, operating affordability, renovation costs, indoor space, outdoor space, parking, and structure condition.

Mayor June Caul said one to two years ago, when she was still a town councillor, some of the individuals who frequent the Senior Centre said they felt that the daycare could provide more opportunity for multiple activities to run there.

“The way the centre is set up now, there’s one huge room and everybody has to be in the same room, so if you’re trying to hold a meeting while they’re playing cards it doesn’t work,” she noted.
It is hoped that once funding is secured for an addition at the Senior Centre, there will be less issues surrounding multiple activities occurring there at once.

Meanwhile, Mayor Caul extended praise to Coun. Brunetta and Coun. John McTaggart who sit on the board, for the negative feedback they received from people who falsely assumed the decision to relocate the Centre was preordained.

“I don’t even know what the best word is to describe the way you’ve been treated by some of the public and I’m very saddened to see that people have not waited and given you the opportunity to do your due diligence,” she remarked at Monday night’s council meeting.

“You certainly did your due diligence and through all that adversity you kept very professional, you kept on the road, and you continued what you had originally set out to do,” Mayor Caul added.

“Congratulations on being so adamant in sticking to your guns, doing what you felt was right and suffering through all of that. I apologize for the people who have treated you that way–it should never have happened.”

Mayor Caul said she has even had false rumours circulated about her intentions for the Senior Centre and it has been an issue over the past several months.

Meanwhile, plans for the Fort Frances Daycare building are still uncertain.

“We’re going to have to decide what we want to do with that building now,” Mayor Caul noted.

“There’s been no talk of doing anything else because we didn’t know where . . . the Centre would go, so now that we know that they’re staying put we can look at other options there.”

“Maybe we’ll have other organizations who will approach us about it, but nothing so far,” Mayor Caul added.