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Ancaster Seniors Achievement Centre successfully expanded its facility in 2014, creating a “wow” factor for the community.
Now, eight years since the $1.8-million project was completed, the centre’s advisory board is looking to build another eye-opening project as plans are underway to construct a new gym on the southern portion of the building.
“We have a barn over there,” said Helmi Kaufmann, who is overseeing the project for the centre, pointing to the nearby farm structure. “Why not have another one right here?”
Kaufmann, a member of the centre’s advisory board, said since the roof would have a 20-degree slope and be south facing, “it would be perfect to install solar panels” to generate energy.
The idea would be the roof could be designed so the facility can collect water and flush its toilets, she said. The centre is not connected to the city’s water system, and it uses a septic tank.
As the facility, located on Alberton Road, continues to attract people from the surrounding area, it needs additional amenities to accommodate its members, said Kaufmann, who is 77.
“Younger seniors don’t want to play cards,” said Kaufmann. “They want to exercise. They want to stay out of the nursing home.”
The proposed gym would have three pickleball courts, change rooms and lockers and storage facility, and would meet a growing need for continued physical exercise for its membership, she said. Kaufmann said right now the members have to use the washroom to change.
It will also have a basketball court that Kaufmann said could be put to good use for its membership.
“We are considered shovel ready,” said Kaufmann.
The preliminary designs were crafted in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated cost of about $5.5 million, said Kaufmann. It is expected that figure will rise after three years because of the pandemic, she said.
Kaufmann said the membership, which was about 1,000 in 2014, but has since grown, has already agreed to contribute about $500,000 toward the new gym. She said the centre has yet to appear before the city to request a municipal contribution. And the centre will also approach the federal and provincial governments for funding assistance.
The achievement centre’s membership is still enjoying the new addition that was built in 2014, which included a new outdoor 2,200-square-foot courtyard, 3,600 square feet of new building space, a new septic system, a new café, new appliances, a fireplace in the middle of the welcoming area, and new offices.
The city provided about $500,000, along with the federal government adding $500,000, with the province chipping in with $250,000.
The expansion, which helped to celebrate, at the time, the centre’s 40th birthday, was the fourth since it opened in 1974 in the former Alberton Elementary School. The former Town of Ancaster purchased the building, at the insistence of Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson’s mother, Barbara, a town councillor at the time.
A second expansion occurred in 1986, followed by another one in 2004 to keep up with the rising interest from the surrounding area.
The centre funded the recent construction of three outdoor pickleball courts that have been continuously busy during the warm months. The facility reopened in September 2021 after being closed since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The centre’s advisory board provided the $100,000 for the new courts after the city turned the centre down.
“We had talked about putting pickleball courts in,” said Kaufmann. “The advisory board decided to revisit the courts because people would be more willing to come and exercise outside.”
But once the winter months arrive, there is only one indoor pickleball court available, she said.
“We are hoping before we hit the dirt that this project would get built for us to use,” she said. “But really, we are planning it for the younger seniors.”
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With an aging population, we wanted to see how seniors recreation needs can be best met locally.
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Ancaster Seniors Achievement Centre planning for its future growth with new gym – Hamilton Spectator