Seniors just might get the attention and services they deserve - council has deferred hitting them with the new rates and fees.

By Pepper Parr

December 26th, 2022



There was a time when the Seniors’ Centre was a vibrant place that was close to crowded at times.

Former Mayor Rick Goldring has his membership application processed at the Seniors’ Centre.

While the pandemic required changes in the level of programming that was possible, prior to the pandemic a committee of seniors worked with staff and things were seen as pretty good.

They operated a small bistro that was profitable and provided good meals at a more than fair price.

During the James Ridge city management regime things changed and the committee operating the centre were shown the door. They were able to take the earnings, which were substantial, with them and gave back to the community in the form of exercise equipment that was geared for seniors.

The operation of the Seniors Centre appeared in the Rates and Fees that Council approved. That report seemed to settle on a 3% increase across the board.

Exercise equipment set up at BurlOak Park was paid for with funds earned at the Bistro when it was run by volunteers.

Those active in the provision of services for seniors took exception to an increase; their efforts resulted in a deferral of any increase for at least a part of the program.

Council removed the Bistro from the Rates and Fees report and deferred a decision until sometime in February when a report that will look into what kind of support is needed and can the Bistro become self-sustaining.

During the debate it was clear council was prepared to give the Seniors’ Bistro Services shown at 100% cost recovery – the program is still offered, and prices change based on the fluctuating cost of food.
In her delegation Anne Marsden said the problems at the Centre were a “direct result of the city meddling with a very well run seniors program and dissolving the board that gives seniors exactly what they needed.”

In the rates and fees report the concern was around the bistro policy that we’re being asked to approve as part of rates and fees that it’d be 100% cost recovery, it’s about 85% now. Mayor Meed Ward said she was “still a little uneasy about putting in a hard and fast percentage policy given the rates fluctuate and we know that some things are included in that 100% So I’m just wondering if there is any harm done, if you will, by just simply taking that out of the rates and fees entirely.

Emilie Cote, speaking as the Acting director of recreation responded: “We absolutely can. I was trying to track the history on this. I think in the past it was an addition because the rates were fluctuating. So we ended up going with that wording. So absolutely. We can take it out.” Then asked if “ It was your suggestion to include the actual rates and fees instead of that, or what were you wanting to put in there instead?

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Meed Ward responded: “I was wondering for now, if we could just take it out entirely with the rates and fees where if you feel there’s a need to specify some rates and fees in in the rates and fees; perhaps staff could bring a further reporting back in January or February to action that but yes, I would I would propose, should there be a willing mover and seconder, that we delete that section for today’s agenda from the bylaw if that works for you?

Councillor Sharman said he was happy to second or first mayor’s motion to extract out that seniors bistro area and element adding that we do need some significant engagement here. We’re clearly not delivering on the service that I think is expected by our residents and we need to do that engagement to re-calibrate where we need to be on this. So let’s extract it out for now. Do that work and we can add it back in appropriately in another time.

The first part will be to remove the from the rates and fees the 100% cost recovery for the bistro so I will count that as Moved by Councillor Kearns, seconded by Councillor Bentivegna.

There are those that believe The Bistro should be a service providing seniors with inexpensive, healthy food choices.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

The push now is to get the Seniors’ Centre back to where it was when the membership was deeply involved in the creation and delivery of programs.

It had became evident that some of the newer Parks and Recreation Staff new precious little about just how well the volunteers had done.

At some point the politicians, staff and the seniors are going to have to meet and work out the differences.

City hall has always had a problem with putting real control in the hands of the people who are being served.

The operating culture at Parks, Recreation staff where the volunteers hope to be abler to inform staff on what has been done in the past and hopefully, return to what worked very well.

If there are meetings with the Mayor there is the likelihood they will get the usual snow job from Her Worship.

One whiff of hope may exist if Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna takes part in any meeting that takes place with Staff. Bentivegna, working as a Deputy Mayor, might want to shape his portfolio in such a way that he can fashion some ideas and suggestions that will reflect what the seniors want rather than what Staff think they should be given.

This will be interesting to watch.

Related opinion piece:

Bentivegna as a Deputy Mayor

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.