The District is currently running a “Seniors Recreation Programming Engagement survey” to inform its future programming at the three facilities the Westwinds Seniors Hub (WW), Brennan Park Recreation Centre, and The 55 Activity Centre. This letter was submitted to the District and copied to The Squamish Chief.
The senior population is growing in B.C. A provincial government website predicts that 25% of B.C. residents will be over 65 by 2030. Squamish is attractive to seniors, and they often have more funds to spend on housing than younger people. I am continually meeting new seniors in Squamish.
Many come because their children and grandchildren have moved here (and might need mortgage and childcare help). Many move from Ontario, for children or weather reasons.
This year, for example, the senior group of the curling club was oversubscribed, and new sessions were added. Part of its attraction is that new people meet other Squamish residents. We have coffee after curling, and make new friends.
The District has to think about social needs, as well as activity needs. Many seniors are lonely. They might see family on weekends, or in the evening, but are alone during the day. Some have no family living here. Organized lunches, entertainment (there is no cinema) and drop-in coffee can help their mental health.
The 55 Activity Centre used to have coffee, lending itself to socializing after Men on the move and other programs. Coffee is no longer available, and no space for socializing is described in the District video about the Westwinds space for seniors. The WW space has no kitchen for lunches or dinners. Will there be coffee?
The survey is unclear about what programs will, or might, stay at The 55 Centre (55C). It seems to suggest that all senior activities will move to the Westwinds building.
The video about the WW space is not clear. At first, it seems that the smaller space is available to seniors, but later it is stated that it will be used for a “neuro/rehab” program from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.. So what WW space is actually available? And when?
The “engagement” write-up refers to 18 visitor parking stalls. Are these reserved for the users of the WW space, or will other occupants or nearby store customers/staff also be using the stalls?
The survey does not have sufficient space for comments. Seniors are upset that space that was promised to them, and which they financially supported, is being lost.
The small rooms in The 55C allow simultaneous small groups. The large WW space can be subdivided in two, but this requires moving a large wall into place, and then out of place.
The WW space, and lack of socializing, are not attractive. There is a lack of understanding by the District staff about the needs, and future numbers, of seniors.
Editor’s note: Asked the questions in this letter, the District told The Chief: “There is kitchen space (for non-commercial use) in which to prepare and serve coffee, tea and light refreshments.
A schedule of programs and activities and their associated space needs has yet to be determined, and will be informed in part by the results from the survey. Programming for 55+ residents will be offered across three locations to best maximize programming opportunities for the 55+ community, and take advantage of the unique attributes of each space. The three locations are Brennan Park Recreation Centre, The 55 Activity Centre, and the Westwinds programming space.
These 18 parking stalls are intended to serve users of the West Winds programming space.”