Members agree new building is needed but have mixed views on location
Simcoe Seniors' Centre member Arnold Shaw takes a shot during a billiards game at the facility on Thursday. With their building on Pond St. deemed inadequate for future use, the group is waiting for county council to decide the next course of action. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer
Members of the Simcoe Seniors' Centre have differing opinions on the facility's future, but one thing they can all agree on is that a new building is needed.
“We've got this place and it's home, but it's falling apart,” past president Anne Smith said Thursday from the Pond Street location. “There's something that goes wrong all the time and the county doesn't want to put money into it because it's just a money pit.
“It's got dodgy hydro, terrible plumbing and the heating is either boiling or nothing.”
The seniors' centre and its estimated 500 members have been at the centre of discussions regarding a proposed community hub that's been talked about at county council in recent months. In February council voted against looking further into a hub concept, which could possibly pair a new seniors' centre with a multi-use recreational facility in Simcoe. A motion to reconsider is on the docket for the council's March 27 meeting.
Smith, a member of the centre for 16 years, said most members would prefer their own standalone facility.
“As you get older you don't always want kids around – been there, done that, you know?” she said.
Smith went on to say a one-stop recreational shop wouldn't fit the needs of members who drive.
“It's all very well saying we would have our own parking, but you know darn well that if something was going on, people would park where they want to park,” she added.
Smith's opinions weren't shared everyone at the centre on Thursday.
“I don't mind sharing,” said Vicky Parkin as several members gathered to share their thoughts.
Most agreed a downtown location with ample parking is crucial.
“This is such a big space here, we take up half the building, plus we need more,” said Karen Milne, who suggested moving into West Lynn Public School in Simcoe, which is slated for closure.
“If you go there you've got a big auditorium, you've got a kitchen and all the rooms, and lots of parking. Maybe that's too far out of the way for some people.”
One man wondered if a new building will raise the centre's yearly fees to exceed the personal budgets of most members. Another member, a man who lives just outside of town, said he was OK with the originally proposed location for a hub on Ireland Road next to the Fanshawe College Simcoe Campus.
Whatever council decides, Pauline Dickey urged them to do so in short order.
“This has been dragging on for a long time and if we don't get something soon, what's going to happen?” she asked. “This building is going to be demolished eventually so we need something and council has to get onto it, not drag their feet.”
Currently, the seniors' centre hosts activities such as cards, tai chi, line dancing, table tennis and shuffleboard five days per week. There are four members on the executive and another six board members – all volunteer positions. With the average age of citizens in Norfolk rising steadily, there's no shortage of interest in the facility. What's not ample is the square footage they have to participate.
“Space is at a premium and every room is multi-purpose,” said Smith. “As soon as one group vacates there's usually another one waiting to go in.”