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Seniors roundtable proposed after MLCC programs cancelled

By Tara Clow Jan 17, 2024 | 9:48 AM

An emotional presentation to Moncton City Council this week from a former board member for the Moncton Lions Community Centre.

Sarah Lord expressed feelings of loss after programs had to be cancelled earlier this month.

The Moncton Lions Community Centre on St. George Street was closed in 2022 when it was converted to a centre for the homeless, and the senior’s programs moved into Heritage Court for one year.  In 2023, they were to be offered out of the Crossman Community Centre and the North End YMCA. That came to an abrupt end when Instructors refused to teach at those locations due to travel time.

It was announced on social media on January 5th, that the MLCC programs were being cancelled.

Lord shared with Council members what the MLCC has meant to its 500 members.

“One lady in tears said that coming out of the pandemic she was really counting on the emotional support that she received from this community and its staff the loss for her was profound. Another person said that they always found that the MLCC was a very welcoming place, a place that they could go to combat social isolation and meet with their friends.”

Lord told Councillors that some seniors are angry, and are questioning where they fit into the City’s social inclusion plan.

“These albums and three to four other boxes are all that remains of this organization. We’re hoping that the museum will be interested in holding onto them. Because now the MLCC is a part of our history, that history formed over 50 years ago, around a table of cards.  Now the programs are like dust scattered in the wind,” Lord stated.

In response, City Manager Serge Doucet reiterated the City’s full support to the seniors.

“The goal of the city is to enable seniors regardless of where they live in our city to access recreational and social programming in facilities located closer to their homes or their neighborhoods. This approach supports the intergenerational model as recommended in our 2023 ten-year recreational Master Plan.”

He also stressed that there are still other programs in the City and that the Moncton Lions Community Centre was only one component of that.

“We will continue to work to find a way forward so that those individuals along with many others who may not currently participate in activities can enjoy a wide variety of community seniors programs and social activities supported by the city of Moncton.”

Deputy Mayor Shawn Crossman proposed a round table involving seniors, City Staff, and Councillors, “I think that if we’re going to move forward, I want them at the table so that their(the seniors) voice is heard and that they are willing to carry out the actions that we set forward.”

Seniors that packed the City Council chambers all raised their hands in support of a roundtable and as confirmation, it was something they were willing to be a part of.

Councillor Paulette Theriault added that a Seniors Program Officer would be a good addition to the City, “I think we need to do this because the citizens deserve this. The seniors have built our city and they deserve a little bit more than what we’ve been doing.”

Mayor Dawn Arnold also thanked Lord for her presentation to the City Council, “We are committed to enhancing the quality of life for our seniors. I think we need to rebuild trust and respect on both sides of this and bring people together to find out what model would be the very best for the greatest number of people. We are committed to that, possible by February 4th, our next public meeting and we will be able to have a map of a plan going forward.”