Gore Bay looks at use of school space for new seniors’ centre

GORE BAY—The Town of Gore Bay and the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) is close to an agreement being finalized for the use of space in the local elementary school as a senior centre for the town.

“Nothing is official but it is on the way,” said Norm Blaseg, director of education for the RDSB, last week.

“We had a meeting with the board in the spring about possible space that could be used in the school (Charles C. McLean Public School); a couple of rooms that could be used for a town seniors’ centre,” Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane told the Recorder last week.

After the spring meeting both parties “had to hear if the Ministry of Education (MOE) would provide funding to renovate the rooms,” said Mayor Lane. “We heard about two weeks ago from the board (RDSB) that the (MOE) would be providing them funding for the renovations in the school and asked if we were still interested (in having some of the space in the school used for a seniors centre).”

“We then talked to representatives of the seniors group in town, and they said they are in favour of the proposal,” said Mayor Lane. He explained the issue will now go to Gore Bay council at its November meeting. “This is now back in our (town) court. The only drawback is that the town would be paying higher rental than had been paying at the medical centre (where the current seniors centre is located).”

“We think it will be a win-win situation,” stated Mayor Lane. “The RDSB would be getting money for the renovations and would get the rent we would pay, and we would be getting a better facility for our seniors; one that is more modern, that is more accessible-being on one level and is a much larger area. And we hope that it would provide for interaction between the kids in the school and seniors and maybe the development of programs such as kids helping seniors with computers.”

“If the seniors go to what we feel is a better location in the school it would also free up space in the medical centre that we could use to attract more health related personnel-businesses to town,” continued Mayor Lane. “Another consideration is the school would remain open for sure.”

Mayor Lane noted there would be a separate entrance, washrooms and parking outside of the school for the seniors’ centre. “I think we would be the first community within the RDSB who would be entering into an agreement like this with the board.”

As well, the mayor pointed out that the town gets provincial funding for half of the costs of the senior centre currently in the medical centre and this would continue at the school location.

“The issue will go to council at a meeting in November and hopefully a decision will be made and we can move ahead,” added Mayor Lane.

Mr. Blaseg noted that with the board in the process of school accommodation reviews in Sudbury, including lease/occupy empty spaces in schools (and in Sudbury), they are looking at possible closure-modifications to 12 schools. Manitoulin Island was noted by board Chief Financial Officer Dennis Bazinet at a recent accommodation review meeting “as being a model flagship in a model of collaboration, particularly Gore Bay and C.C. McLean.”