Seniors club aims for new space

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50-plus members see potential for medical, housing and community groups under one roof

A five or six-storey building might be a bit much, but the new community support centre described by the St. Albert 50+ Club needs to move forward, says Mayor Nolan Crouse.

Club board chair Lesley Hogan and new building committee chair Tom Clarke addressed council Monday, outlining its vision for a new building in which the club is seen as the anchor tenant but would offer space to other community groups.

Such a building could have three possible configurations – a two-storey building, which Clarke said would come in at less than the estimated $15.6 million capital budget, a three-storey building containing space for professional and medical services for an additional $6.5 million, or a four-to-five storey building with the additional floors built as seniors housing. The additional two floors would cost another $8.6 million each.

“Several opportunities exist, such as sharing space with other agencies, adding space for medical and support services and additional space for housing for seniors,” said Clarke, a retired engineer.

The project charter for the community support centre was originally conceived based on the fact the club’s current facilities require significant repairs or replacement. While the seniors would not be the centre’s only users, recreation services director Monique St. Louis described them as an “anchor tenant.”

“The community support centre is intended to house a number of agencies, so it’s not just [seniors],” St. Louis said. “We’ve met with them and potential other tenants as well.”

Some of those tenants could include other community groups such as the Youth Community Centre, which is fighting for survival, as well as groups like Stop Abuse in Families (SAIF) and the Community Information and Volunteer Centre, according to Crouse.

“There was nothing in that presentation that was really new. They’re just extending a hand forward,” Crouse said.

Originally an unfunded item in the city’s 10-year capital plan, the standing committee on finance voted unanimously in June to move its construction to the funded list for 2014. The original charter cites a cost of approximately $15.6 million with construction taking place in 2015. Approximately $1.2 million worth of work would take place in 2014.

St. Louis said a consultant is re-assessing the possible sites as well as costs. Sites include Millennium Park, the present club’s space, or city land on the corner of St. Anne Street. The club prefers the Millennium Park site because it would not have to abandon the current building and could keep the large parking lot next door.

Clarke stressed the need for a newer, larger space for the club was growing, noting a membership of 500 among a seniors population of 20,000 local residents.

Crouse said a five-storey building likely wasn’t an option but council would explore the proposal more when it receives the budget late next month.

“We have to get through the budget process to make sure we want to continue to move forward,” Crouse said. “I don’t think it can be five or six storeys.”

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