By Catherine O’Hara
When it comes to programs for seniors in Waterdown, the possibilities are endless.
Roughly 100 seniors turned out to hear about the various programming options available at the soon-to-be-built Waterdown Library and Civic Centre at a meeting hosted by Ward 15 councillor Judi Partridge on Dec. 6.
The facility, to be located along Dundas Street East on the former Flamborough Town Hall site, will feature 4,500 square feet of recreation space, including two multi-purpose rooms, a kitchen, servery and storage, where the local seniors’ club can run its activities.
However, seniors must decide if they want to partner with the city or operate as a not-for-profit organization before any plans are implemented.
The meeting, held at Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterdown, was the first of many city staff will host to garner feedback from local seniors about their preferred governance model and program options.
Should the group adopt a municipal model and enter into a partnership with Hamilton, the city’s recreation division would play a pivotal role in ensuring that the site’s operations, including programs and activities, are in line with the seniors’ club’s vision.
“The objective is to build the existing program, to provide more opportunities for today’s seniors and to keep them sustainable for seniors of tomorrow,” said recreation coordinator Cathy Kohler, who works out of Sackville Hill Seniors Recreation Centre but oversees programming at all of the seniors’ centres across Hamilton.
Possible programs and services include fitness and dance classes, arts and crafts, music programs, and workshops and seminars, which are tailored to seniors’ interests.
The annual membership rate is $29.40 for residents. Seniors can opt to pay a daily rate of $2.15 per visit or a drop-in fee.
Seniors’ membership to the Waterdown facility would grant them access to programs offered at the city’s other recreation centres.
While the annual fee, determined by the city, is higher than the Waterdown Seniors’ Club current membership rate, “We don’t have access to everything else,” noted one senior in attendance at last Thursday’s meeting.
Under the municipal model, registration fees are shared equally between the club and the city.
Partnering with Hamilton, said Al Gordon, chair of the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre, has proven beneficial to the centre’s 1,100 members.
“Our relationship with the city is really something else,” said Gordon. “In terms of cooperation, we could ask for no more.”
But Flamborough seniors fear that they might lose their autonomy if they were to adopt a municipal model and partner with Hamilton rather than operate as a not-for-profit organization.
“You said the city doesn’t take over. The majority of the people here are a bit leery of that,” said one man.
“We want to partner with you. We don’t want to tell you what you need. We want you to tell us what you want,” assured Chris Herstek, recreational manager of facilities and capital planning.
In addition to the variety of activities that can be offered by the city’s recreation staff, seniors will have access to an array of Hamilton Public Library programs at the new Dundas Street East complex.
According to Ania Van Minnen, manager of the Waterdown library, more programs will be offered to community residents in various age groups, including seniors.
“Because of the limited space that we have in the current Waterdown library, we just can’t provide the same services as the Central (branch) programs to our community,” she said.
The 15,000-square-foot library will provide staff with ample space to host book clubs, author visits, computer classes and card games – activities traditionally offered to seniors at other HPL branches, “which we hope to offer at the new Waterdown library,” said Van Minnen.
“You have the advantage of a major facility with all kinds of add-ons,” said Bob Goyeche, of rdh Architects, the firm that designed the building, which will also be home to the Flamborough Archives, Flamborough Information and Community Services, the city’s Municipal Service Centre and Hamilton Police Service.
In the spring, the city’s recreation development team will host public information sessions to garner community input on programs, the centre’s hours of operation and scheduling. It will also begin work with the local seniors’ group to develop a governance model.