A new roof over their head

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The Bonnyville Seniors’ Drop-In Centre is in need of a few upgrades, some critical and some hopeful.

Replacing the building’s roof, purchasing a new handicap-accessible front door, an aluminum stage, and floor tarps for the floor curling area are what Bonnyville Senior Citizens’ Society president Sonja Stryski described as items on their “wish list.”

“Those are just some of the bigger items, the list is probably a mile long,” she explained.

The most important repair, Stryski said, is replacing the front door.

“The front door to the south entrance of our building is not really wheelchair accessible… We have to replace the doors and get some threshold mats in there so someone in a wheelchair or with a walker won’t have to lift it in order to get inside… This way they can get in without somebody helping them.”

They’re hoping to have the door, a project estimated to cost $10,000, checked off of their list before winter.

While replacing the front door is a top priority, getting a new roof is also on the society’s must-do list.

Included in this upgrade, is the purchase of threshold mats. The mats, which are made from recycled rubber, will make the door flush with the sidewalk.

Stryski said currently, anyone in a wheelchair, or with a walker or cane are having to lift them up in order to access the building from this entrance.

Although they haven’t received an up-to-date estimate, the centre has been told it could cost upwards of $200,000 to get the job done.

“We have been repairing and patching our roof, and every so often we have to do another patch job. Somewhere down the line, we either have to replace that roof or do something better,” noted Stryski.

However, she added, it’s “a big undertaking,” and is a cost the society won’t be able to tackle on their own.

Renting the hall is one of the society’s main sources of income, but during the winter months, they can’t rent the space.

Stryski explained it’s because they host floor curling from October until the spring.

“We don’t rent out our big hall because it’s pretty much set up for floor curling for our members. That’s their activity and our members come first, but our income comes from rentals. It can’t be rented out for weddings or events because of the floor. It needs to be stripped and re-waxed after each event so we can floor curl. That’s why we’re looking at purchasing floor mats or tarps, something to put down for meetings, dinners, and other events.”

If the society purchases floor tarps, they would be able to rent out the hall over the winter, which would bring in more funding to help cover the cost of some of their other wish list items.

The tarps can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000.

“Another thing on our wish list is aluminum staging,” Stryski expressed. “We have staging that was built long ago, and they’re heavy. They’re homemade and very heavy for the guys to lift.”

Volunteers pull out, set up, and tear down the staging whenever it’s needed. Stryski said in most cases, these hardworking volunteers are 79-years-old and older.

The staging isn’t a priority, but the $20,000 item would be lighter and easier for their members to work with.

Stryski said the centre isn’t just for seniors, it benefits the entire community.

“We’ve been told that we have one of the better halls in the area.”

Over the years, they have hosted weddings, fundraisers, meetings, dinners, and concerts.

Their events help those who might not normally attend get out of the house, Stryski said.

“This is something that allows people to come in and play cards or attend our events,” she added.

Stryski said the town does help with some costs of running the centre, but the overall upkeep is up to the society to maintain.

In order to make-up the $255,000 in upgrades, the Bonnyville Senior Citizens’ Society is hosting a fundraiser.

Their Harvest Fall Supper and fundraiser, taking place on Saturday,    Sept. 22, will raise money for the repairs.

Doors open at 5 p.m., with supper starting at 6 p.m. For tickets, and more information about the event, contact the Seniors’ Drop-In Centre at 780-826-3619.

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