By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
As executive director of the Oshawa Senior Citizen Centres (OSCC) Sandra Black puts it, it’s time for the rubber to hit the pavement.
Earlier this year, Oshawa council pledged to assist the OSCC with expansion plans to create a new fifth branch in the north end of the city. Council has said they will assist with funding 20 per cent of the annual operating costs for the new branch.
Now, following $42,700 in funding received from the Seniors Active Living Centres, the OSCC is ready to move forward with the plans to open the fifth branch, temporarily located at the Polish Veteran’s-Sikorski Hall located on Stevenson Road North.
“We are just thrilled, I think mostly to be able to serve the seniors in that area. It’s become such a developed area of the city, and we know that if we offer programming up there it’s like ‘Field of Dreams’ if you build it, they will come,” Black says.
Currently, the OSCC has four branches including the Conant branch and John Street branch which serve the south and central areas of the city respectively. The Northview branch and the site located inside the Legends Centre serve the quickly growing north end of the city, and Black says that many of the OSCC’s popular programs are generally booked solid with some of them having wait lists. According to data from the city, interest in OSCC’s more active programming surged between 2009 and 2014 by 33 per cent.
“We knew that the membership and the growth in the north end warranted more space for programming,” she says. “We’re confident in our need to create a fifth branch in that north quadrant.”
While many of the details and programming are still being worked out for the new branch, Black says it would make sense to offer many of the more popular programs, like the OSCC fitness programs, yoga, and dance classes like Zumba.
“We plan to coordinate, now that we know the funding is approved,” she says. “We plan to sit down with the staff at Sikorski to outline the details of the programming that will be offered from there.”
And while Black says the OSCC is ecstatic to be able to open a new branch to serve the north end, the location at Sikorski Hall will only be a temporary solution, before hopefully relocating to a new city recreation or community centre when one is constructed. This is similar to the model used with the Conant, Legends and Northview branches of the OSCC which are intergrated into existing city facilities. The John Street branch is the only stand-alone branch.
“The idea is to reside at Sikorski temporarily and then once we are able to plan a new facility that we would then have a very established program base that we could move there,” she says.
This plan follows the recommendation in the city’s Parks, Recreation, Library, and Culture Facilities Needs Assessment completed in 2015, which recommended that when a new recreation facility was constructed to serve the growing population north of Taunton Road, older-adult programming space would be included in that facility.