Yes, a permanent long term location for a seniors drop in centre is something the community needs.
There are many competing interests for facilities and funding in Sooke. To suggest “every community in BC enjoys a centre for their seniors except Sooke” is not correct. Looking across the province you will find many variations of seniors’ centres, ranging from nothing, a room in a school to dedicated facilities.
Over the past two years this council has been working hard to accommodate our seniors. The following initiatives have been started or are underway:
- A long term plan including a visioning document, for an Age Friendly Community. This lays the groundwork for potential grants if they become available.
- In the fall of 2012, we had discussions with the Sooke River Hotel for a potential Seniors Drop in Centre. The representatives of the seniors group felt the facility wasn’t satisfactory for their purposes.
- Spring of 2013 obtained in partnership with CHI a $20,000 grant to assist seniors.
- Spring of 2013 attempted to purchase Mulligan’s building for a community multi-use facility.
- Fall of 2013 Council worked with the Community Association to create an interim drop in centre for senior’s bingo and lunch group, in addition to the Old Age Pensioner #75 already using the Community Hall.
- Note: The Community Hall is operated and maintained totally by volunteers who worked hard to find an interim place for the seniors. The Volunteer Association supports numerous groups in the community and many of the directors are seniors themselves.
- Fall of 2013 worked with CHI applying for a grant of $20,000 to do improvements to the Community Hall dining room bathrooms.
- Council is currently working with the Community Association to provide additional funding for improvements to the dining room and bathroom areas of the hall in 2014.
- Ongoing discussions with the Sooke Lions Club about potential partnership opportunities.
- Continuing to work with the Library Board on a new Library with the potential of combining a multi-use building including a senior’s component.
This Council is committed to community building partnerships and want to ensure that everyone regardless of age has a community with the basics for well being. These basics must respect the ability of the taxpayers to fund any initiatives. Sooke is a young municipality and has accomplished much through volunteer initiatives. There is much more to do but we will only accomplish this working together in a positive manner.
Wendal Milne, Mayor
District of Sooke
UPDATE: At Monday’s council meeting, Rick Casper recommended $7,500 be allocated towards 2014 rental fees, and $25,000 be set aside for a capital fund towards a seniors’/drop-in centre