Sylvan Lake Seniors Association finds new home at NexSource Centre
The Sylvan Lake Seniors Association is one of the user groups that was able to move into their new home at the NexSource Centre, simultaneously doubling their square footage.
The project is the result of over five years of planning and coordination, according to Sylvan Lake Seniors Association President Don MacKenzie.
“The Town originally came to us and asked if we were willing to move to a new premises,” he said. “They had various options and ideas at the time, all of what was in the infancy of what we see here today. Things have changed considerably since that original diagram. It was a much smaller scale project. What happened next was the old story of the rink falling down. A small project became a very large project.”
The tragic caving in of the multiplex ceiling led plans for the new NexSource Centre to accelerate. MacKenzie and other members of the Seniors Association were involved in the early stages of those plans.
“I was on the finance committee and another one of our board members was on the design committee,” he said. “We met with the architects and went through the whole process of ‘what do you want?’, ‘what do you need?’ and ‘what is the difference?’ It was a long process, but the end result is tremendous and the Town has been tremendous, working with us to make sure we got something useful for us and the folks of the Town.”
The move to the NexSource Centre was fortunate, as the Seniors Association was faced with a rapid growth.
“The nice thing about our old premises, which we owned free and clear, was that we grew out of it,” MacKenzie said. “In this day and age, for an outfit to be able to still grow is exciting. I took over as president in 2011 and at that time we had 56 active members. Now we are looking at roughly 246.”
The rapid growth meant that the Seniors Association needed to provide more programming to suit the needs of their membership.
“We hired a new program coordinator, Maryan Weenink and she has done a tremendous job increasing the number of programs we have, and the participation levels have been fantastic,” he said. “We are hoping to increase again, even more so.”
MacKenzie is hoping that the added space will also attract other demographics other than just their 55-plus membership.
“There are a lot of 30 - 50 somethings and we have a tremendous amount of space here,” he said. “That age group needs spaces to go to. Our thought process is that we are open Monday to Friday, leaving Saturday and Sunday open, with a whole lot of space in the dark. It would be awful nice to raise interest in having other groups come in and utilize the space. It adds a little hope for succession in our organization as well.”
One of the biggest factors of the new space is accessibility, with newer and more modern technologies that can help with mobility issues.
“It is much easier to get in, all the doors are automatic, making it easier for people in walkers and wheel chairs,” he added.
MacKenzie was also thrilled to be able to share their new home with the many user groups now situated in the NexSource Centre.
“It’s turning into one big happy family here,” he said. “We have the curlers at one end and the hockey at the other, with the Play Centre soon be up and operating. That’s why we have a concept to have coffee and little snacks on the go. Moms and dads can drop of their kids in Play Centre and come on in and sit on the couch.”
The transition to the new building has been fairly seamless, according to MacKenzie.
“There were some hiccups along the way and we still have a few small growing pains but overall I can’t say enough about what the Town staff has done,” he said. “They moved us - lock, stock and barrel.”
MacKenzie added that the membership feedback has been positive.
“The members love it and it is really nice to drive by and see the lights on,” he said. “It’s going and it’s active - the building is active.”
The ability to be a community hub in Sylvan Lake was one of the main things that MacKenzie and the Senior’s Association board wanted to achieve.
“Its one of the top things we are interested in,” he said. “We are looking at a lot of ideas, including one with the Town where we would host a Saturday or Sunday dinner theatre. We have the beautiful drop down stage and we can fit 250 in here. The whole Town, regardless of age, loves to eat and loves to have a laugh and a giggle.”
He added “while it is the Sylvan Lake Seniors Association, we don’t want people to think they aren’t welcome just because you aren’t over 55. You are welcome.”