The Mission Seniors’ Centre Association (MSCA) is taking over the Community Activity Centre while the search for a permanent home continues.
Municipal council has given MSCA three months to take control of the centre, and a further 12 months to come up with the business plan.
Three potential locations for a new centre remain after council removed St. Andrew’s Church as an option following a request from the church of a yes or no answer.
The remaining sites include renovating and expanding either the Leisure Centre, Pleasant View, or a location on Fletcher Avenue. Though Bob Ingram, president of MSCA, declined to give preference to any one option, he said Pleasant View lends itself to the greatest possibilities, as it is near existing seniors’ housing.
The municipality will form a task force to work with the MSCA help identify the best option.
Of the 163 people surveyed at a March 1 open house at the Leisure Centre, 81 per cent said they would not be willing to pay to use the facility. A further 78 per cent wanted no membership fee, and 43 per cent said operating costs should be fully funded by taxpayers.
That option just isn’t on the table, according to Mayor Ted Adlem.
“There has to be some kind of a user fee,” he said, adding that’s standard with any other organization with which the district partners.
Unless residents want a big increase to property taxes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” Adlem said.
Another finding of the survey was that although 50 per cent of respondents did not support a strata ownership model partnered with a seniors’ centre, a focus group thought it would be a good idea.
Ingram cautioned that survey respondents may not represent the population, but had trouble believing a strata partnership would work in the current economic climate.
That’s where the task force comes into play, trying to bring all seniors groups together to create a single voice, he said. The task force needs to be “large enough to be representative, but not so large that it becomes divisive.”
In the end, what the task force recommends is going to depend on how it will be financed, said Adlem.
For now, district staff is working with the MSCA to ease transition into their new digs.
Maureen Sinclair, director of parks, recreation and culture, said the MSCA isn’t in a financial position to immediately absorb the facility operating costs.