Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre. (Grace Kennedy photo)

North Delta seniors centre struggling with engagement

Declining membership sees the city stepping in to create change at the North Delta facility

The Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre is struggling when it comes to member participation, and now the City of Delta is stepping in to see what needs to change.

For the last 45 years, the Kennedy Seniors Society has worked with the City of Delta to provide recreation and leisure services for local seniors at the recreation centre. The society operates on a volunteer basis, providing the programming for the centre. The city provides the building, paying for much of its operating costs and some support staff.

Delta spends $228,000 on building operations and $175,000 on staff each year for the Centre. These staff include a seniors centre coordinator; two part-time auxiliary supervisors, one for programs and one for senior support; a full-time custodian; auxiliary building service workers; and a temporary full-time recreation program coordinator.

The city also staffs the North Delta seniors bus program, which has an operating cost of $100,000 and runs out of the Kennedy Seniors Centre.

Delta receives half of the membership dues from the society as a contribution towards the use of the facility, but over the past year that amount has been dropping as engagement from members has declined, a staff report noted.

The report indicated that this could be from many factors: the diversity in the centre’s programming doesn’t reflect the population of Delta and there has been little development in the type of services offered. In addition, the loss of a permanent contractor for Café Eighty-Eight has affected many seniors who rely on the café for regular meals.

Since the spring, Delta staff have been working with the newly elected board of directors to create change at the seniors centre. However, the challenge of engagement continues.

Although Delta introduced a new volunteer management system and brought 16 new volunteers on board, getting enough people to do the work has been difficult.

In particular, customer service, programs and cafe service has been the most difficult areas to staff.

Now, the City of Delta is looking at new service models for the Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre. These currently include city-run facilities with a seniors advisory board, a facility with third party operators and board-operated facilities that get support from the city.

The goal, the report stated, is to create a new service model that will “encourage participation, support enhances experiences for seniors in their recreation opportunities and increase membership at Kennedy.” How exactly it will do that remains to be seen.



grace.kennedy@northdeltareporter.com

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