Sooke council has reaffirmed its support for a senior activity centre and is committing $252,577 from a reserve fund to the project, which includes an affordable housing plan.
The Sooke Seniors Drop-in Centre, Sooke Region Age Friendly Committee and Sooke Region Communities Health Network have jointly embarked on the senior project. The group has approached M’akola Housing to conduct a feasibility study and hopes to receive $50,000 in grant funding from B.C. Housing to assist with costs.
The facility would be a shared facility with local youth.
The support from the district will allow the group to start fundraising for the centre with public and private partners, a staff report stated.
The group hopes to build a 5,000-square-foot building with a 36-unit affordable senior housing project on the second floor.
Through volunteer efforts, the group has raised more than $50,000 for the project over the last 10 years.
Earlier this year, council authorized in principle the use of the municipally-owned Lot A property for a senior drop-in centre.
The senior centre proposal met with unanimous support from council.
“This is an important project for the community, and hopefully we’ll get something done by taking these steps,” said Coun. Rick Kasper.
Added Mayor Maja Tait: “Council can’t do everything. It needs to work with others. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Council-watcher Gail Hall questioned whether council had the legal authority to move the reserve fund, without a proper bylaw in place.
“Without a bylaw, you don’t have a reserve fund,” she told council, adding she wasn’t against the building of a senior centre, only ensuring proper procedures are in place.
“You can’t move money until you have legal authority.”
Acting CAO Brent Blackhall assured council the proper procedures were in place. No other details were available from municipal staff.
“For the past four years, auditors have reviewed all our financial statements and have gone through all our reserve funds established by council and we’ve met all the requirements,” Kasper said.
“There’s nothing saying the district did not comply with statutory requirements.”
Sooke has not had a senior-designated centre for years. The Sooke Seniors Drop-In Centre last operated at the community hall, but that facility was considered inadequate.