How and Why SVSACS Began
Southeast Vancouver Seniors' Arts & Cultural Society (SVSACS) is a group of dedicated individuals working to have a seniors' centre built in southeast Vancouver. The centre would house various arts and cultural activities for seniors, serving as a meeting and gathering place for older adults of all ethnic backgrounds. The society developed out of the Victoria-Fraserview/Killarney and Sunset CityPlan Vision Implementation Seniors' Centre Subcommittee.
There is currently no seniors' centre in all of southeast Van!
We've come a long way
During the mid-1990s there was an increasing awareness that the population of seniors in the southeast section of Vancouver was rapidly expanding. it was apparent from Canada Census data and studies commissioned by the City of Vancouver that the area roughly between Main Street and Boundary Road from 41st Avenue south to the Fraser River contained the fastest growing population of seniors in the city. Approximately one third of all the city's senior residents (some 16,000) live in this area, and the number has been increasing rapidly. It was also apparent that this part of Vancouver is home to one of the city's most diverse multicultural populations. Nevertheless, while there are eight or nine seniors centres serving other areas of the city, there is not one seniors centre in Southeast Vancouver.
In 2001 Vancouver City Council acknowledged the serious need, and approved (in principle) the development of a small (4,000-square-foot) seniors centre next to the Killarney Community Centre. An opportunity surfaced when the B.C government offered to provide provincial infrastructure funding to develop a seniors centre proposal. Unfortunately, the proposed funding did not survive the change in government following the election.
In the few years that followed the project moved slowly forward, suffering from new-project glitches. Perhaps the most significant one was related to the East Fraser Lands Development Project. ParkLane Homes proposed a large residential development on 130 acres between Kerr Street and Boundary Road south of Marine Drive, where the old Pine Point Mill had operated for many years. This development would house a largely-residential community of approximately 12,800 people, and could possibly include a seniors centre. The CityPlan Victoria-Fraserview/Killarney (VFK) Committee formed a subcommittee known as the East Fraser Lands (EFL) Committee to provide citizens' overview and assist in planning and development of the new community. Many members of the EFL Committee also served on the Seniors Centre Planning Group.
The EFL Committee decided that a seniors centre built in the East Fraser Lands would not serve southeast Vancouver seniors very well. The location was too far south with a steep hill and a significant lack of transit. In addition, the length of time required to complete the development project was going to be 20 years! A location closer to the centre of the VFK community was recommended, and another site needed to be found. The obvious choice was to establish the seniors centre attached to the Killarney Community Centre where there is adequate parking space, excellent transit service (with three routes already in use), land available and many community centre amenities (such as the hydrotherapy pool) that seniors would want to use.
In January 2007 the City acknowledged the serious need for this centre and approved time for staff from City Planning Dept. to actively engage with the community in the planning process. The Planning Department designated a small amount of staff time to assist the community proponents with the process, and later that year with this assistance, and financial assistance from the Killarney Community Association, the Southeast Vancouver Seniors' Arts & Cultural Society (SVSACS) incorporated as a registered society under B.C. regulations. (Date of incorporation April 2, 2008. Registration No: S-53479)
SVSACS was born, taking the project of building a true seniors centre in southeast Vancouver on the path to becoming a reality. SVSACS introduced a number of programs and activities by partnering with other interested groups including the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, Killarney Community Centre, Champlain Heights Community Centre, Sunset Community Centre, Collingwood Policing Centre, and other groups. Finally, in 2010, the Vancouver Park Board approved site studies for a 10,000-square-foot centre to be constructed as an annex to the Killarney Community Centre.
While we continue to wait for a seniors centre to be built, SVSACS continues to sponsor senior-friendly programs including bus trips and monthly free movies. We published a small history book documenting the ethnic diversity of our community. Currently, we are in the process of publishing a recipe book of the various delicious ethnic dishes served at our monthly lunches. These are just a few of the activities SVSACS provides as we continue to work on getting the City, provincial and federal funding necessary to create a Seniors Arts and Cultural Centre in southeast Vancouver.
We will succeed!