Upsized seniors’ centre endorsed by city council

Kelowna’s new $4-million seniors’ centre is growing in size—and it’s not even built yet.

Following complaints that the proposed new building—dubbed a “multi-age activity centre”—would be too small for many of the activities currently held at the existing downtown seniors’ centre, council found another $600,000 for the new building in the spring. Revised plans now call for a facility 2,000-square-feet bigger than the one it is replacing.

The new centre will be a two-storey, 132,000-square-foot building, located beside the Parkinson Recreation Centre.

The existing lakefront seniors’ centre downtown is slated to be demolished to make way for an expansion of the Kelowna Yacht Club.

Kristine Bouw, the city’s architectural planner, said some of the extra space will enlarge the new building’s main hall by 835-square-feet to 3,451-square-feet, plenty of room for several different configurations such as two pickleball courts, six carpet bowling mats, banquet seating for 150 or 36 tables for bridge.

“We have talked to various groups at the (existing) senior’s centre to get input,” said Bouw.

Two years ago, the city decided to relocate the seniors centre to the grounds of the Parkinson Recreation Centre but the initial design raised concerns from seniors because it was considered a smaller overall space than the one they were giving up. Seniors groups said the proposed main hall could not accommodate some of the old centre’s most popular events.

In May, the city pledged more money for the new facility and sent its designers back to make changes.

In addition to the large main hall, the new centre will also have a full-service kitchen, a lounge area, plenty of storage, a billiards room, more washrooms than the original plan, an activity room and an elevator to connect the two floors.

It will have sliding doors for easier access and will have large glass windows and doors on the west side that will open onto the grounds of the recreation centre across from Mill Creek.

Engineers are currently working on a suspended wood floor concept for the man hall to allow for a surface that not only can accommodate dancing but will also allow for the radiant heating system pipes beneath it.

The centre is planned to be a “green” building in its design, construction and operation and also universally accessible. Bouw described it as a “high performance” building, noting the mechanical parts are integral to the design, not just add-ons, which is often the case in other buildings.

The new centre will feature two five-ton water heat pumps to create chilled water in the summer and hot water in the winter, passive solar heating and ventilation, operable windows and user controls with sensors and radiant floor heating. It will feature plenty of natural light through the extensive use of glass.

Bouw’s description of what is planned was greeted with enthusiasm by council Monday afternoon.

Calling the revised plan very good, Coun. Robert Hobson said “reasonable people” will view the changes as an improvement. “It really does meet most of the concerns (expressed by seniors after the first design was made public),” said Hobson.

Coun. Kevin Craig noted the extensive consultations that went into the new plan. The city met with many of the groups that use the existing centre, with the local accessibility advisory committee, seniors representatives and others in developing the revised design.

The detailed design and construction drawings for the new centre will now be completed and the construction contract tender put out for bid later this summer.

The contract is expected to be awarded in the fall with construction taking an estimated 10 months. The building is slated to open in September 2012.



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