Thirty-year resident Bill Gibbons continues to ask the question, when will a centralized and accessible seniors centre with a games room be developed in Cochrane's downtown core?
He'll once again be pursuing the question at Coffee with the Mayor at the Seniors on the Bow (SOTB) this morning (Oct. 17), this time armed with a new petition he intends to launch.
"I'm going to go there and I'm going to hand out my current letter in regards to 'Forgotten Seniors' and it has a petition attached to it."
"We have to send a strong message to our elected officials," he says. "A petition stating a more adequate and accessible senior centre with a games room is long overdue."
He says the petition will be available to sign at various locations in town.
"The more signatures we get, the more impact we will have with the Town of Cochrane."
He also welcomes others to assist with its distribution. Interested people can contact him at 406-422-8706 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gibbons says relocating the senior centre to downtown Cochrane was identified as the right move in the 2018 tri-site task force report. He says it also falls in line with the results of a 2016 survey of SOTB members that saw an overwhelming majority in favour of a more adequate and accessible location.
At one point, the seniors centre was downtown but was relocated upstairs in the SLS Centre. To help make it more accessible, a new elevator was installed in late 2018, but even then, Gibbons says some seniors can't physically get there.
"The kicker for me was when a 50-year senior member of the Cochrane Legion had to join the Springbank senior club because his wife could no longer access Seniors on the Bow," he states in his letter 'Forgotten Seniors.'
Gibbons has been pushing for its relocation since 2015 and has brought up the issue continually over the years. So far, he says he hasn't received any constructive feedback.
Gibbons wants a 2,600 sq. ft. games room and has drawn out a floor plan. Ideally, it would include such activities as simulated golf, billiards, darts, shuffleboard, card tables, and skeeball, as well as offering a place to meet and socialize.
"We've got to have something for the men and that's what I've basically been lobbying for is getting something going where we have a games room and prevent people meeting at various coffee shops and just hanging around. This is going to be a constructed move where people will be involved in games, and it's good for you mentally and physically."
He says he has visited seniors centres in Springbank, Sundre, Carstairs, Strathmore, Okotoks, and Bragg Creek and they all have games rooms.
"It's somewhere for men to congregate because, let's face it, men love games. I'm not saying women don't play games too, but men play more games than women."
It's not a simple matter, though.
The redevelopment of the 15-acre site on 5th Ave. is a complicated and expensive multi-use project that will likely be developed in phases. It appears a new Big Hill Lodge will be the first to break ground.
An application to the provincial government to assist with the project has been submitted by the Rocky View Foundation, which operates the seniors home.
Infrastructure upgrades are expected to be necessary along the entire 5th Ave. corridor. A 5th Avenue Functional Planning and Design study was included in the town's 2023 budget at an estimated cost of $250,000.
"The timing of this project is important as there are several potential redevelopment opportunities along the corridor with the tri-site (municipally owned) lands, the lands around the railway crossing, and businesses in the commercial area along the east side of 5th Ave.," states the town's 2023-25 budget book.
"With the study in place, implementation of improvements could also be timed with the construction of the redevelopment," it continues to summarize. "There are also several current municipal projects that will impact 5th Ave. and could influence the outcome, including the realignment of 4th Ave. at Highway 1A and the development of a connecting storm main from Railway Street."
The functional study is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, CochraneNow encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the CochraneNow app.