Efforts begin to try to keep bulldozers away from Kelowna senior’s centre - InfoNews

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Efforts begin to try to keep bulldozers away from Kelowna senior’s centre

This is the home of the Okanagan Mission Senior Centre Society that the city wants to tear down in favour of a $10 million building it wants to build next to the H2O Centre.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna
July 08, 2019 - 5:30 PM

KELOWNA - A senior’s group that’s planning on celebrating its 50th anniversary on July 27 is likely to get the boot from its waterfront meeting place before getting much older.

The Okanagan Mission Senior Centre Society bases its activities out of a 70-year-old house in Sarsons Beach Park where members can enjoy the view of Okanagan Lake while playing a hand of bridge, bingo or line dancing.

The city plans to tear it down in a few years’ time, once a new senior’s centre is built near the H20 center.

“It doesn’t make sense to tear down a facility that was, in the beginning, bought for a reduced amount with the idea of keeping it in perpetuity for the seniors in the Mission.” Don Knox told iNFOnews.ca. “If it was derelict I could understand the push to move it. But it’s got the ambiance. It’s a wonderful facility, it’s really well used. Not just for the seniors but for special events. There’s a lot of weddings that happen out there.”

Knox is a life-long Mission resident who has been involved in heritage and community issues over the years and is looking for ways to preserve the building.

“It’s an older building that was built as a residence and converted over to other uses,” Robert Parlane, the city’s parks and buildings planning manager said. “It doesn’t suit other purposes that we would like to have.”

A larger, purpose-built senior’s center would allow for things like dance lessons, yoga, or other physical activities, he said.

It could go the same route as the Water Street senior centre that was relocated to Parkinson Recreation Centre in 2012 so the Kelowna Yacht Club could rebuild and the waterfront promenade could be extended.

The Sarsons house was built by Kenneth Young in 1949. The Okanagan Mission Retired Citizens Group formed in 1969 in an effort to provide social outlets for newcomers to the area, according to a 20th anniversary report written by George Hyde.

The group started out using church and community halls before the house was put up for sale by then-owner Art Dawein 1973. He agreed to reduce the sale price if the city bought it and turned it over to the seniors.

But, even in that report, Hyde noted there were already “hard rumblings” that, once a recreational centre was built in the Mission, a Senior’s Activity Centre would follow.

“New buildings with all their appeal and potential for expansion are great and in no way should be knocked,” Hyde wrote. “But, many of the seniors who have over the years enjoyed the idyllic spot on the lake, the beautiful yard, the quietness and privacy of the area, the converted home even with its many limitations; many of us will shed nostalgic tears of regret, and drag our feet reluctantly if the time actually comes for us to give up 4398 Hobson Road.”

And, Knox doesn’t want to just complain about its loss either. He wants the city to consider keeping the building and hopes the various groups using it will be willing to fundraise to cover maintenance costs.

“It’s not about money,” Parlane said. “It’s about the best use of the city’s resources.”

While some seniors believe the building will be demolished in order to increase the size of the parking lot, Parlane says that’s not the case. The idea, he said, is to increase the size of the park.

The city’s 10 Year Capital Plan has earmarked $810,000 for design work for the new centre in 2024 and just over $9 million for construction in 2025.

That time line is not written in stone and, Parlane said, there will be public consultation.

There’s also plenty of time for people like Knox to try to change those plans.

The stunning views of Okanagan Lake will be lost to seniors once their centre is torn down in Sarsons Beach Park.
The stunning views of Okanagan Lake will be lost to seniors once their centre is torn down in Sarsons Beach Park.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

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