For Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson, the nearly $1.75-million expansion to the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre needed to have a “wow” factor for it to be a success.
As over 200 people streamed into the gleaming new addition June 21 for the first time during the grand opening ceremony, Ferguson looked around, raised his arms and confirmed people will be surprised at what they see and experience.
“When they come into the building, see the fireplace and look out into the courtyard, they are going to say ‘wow,’” he said.
Invited guests, members and politicians all embraced the new structure. People took turns snacking on cream-filled pastries or dipping strawberries into the chocolate fountain as they wandered about the grand, sun-drenched lobby, soaking up the expansive space, or sitting in the comfortable chairs strewn about the room. Some people were enjoying snacks and coffee in the new outdoor courtyard, which includes a patio where a barbecue awaits.
It was an appropriate 40th birthday gift for a facility that has seen some hard times and spectacular successes since 1974.
The expansion, which began about four years ago with crude drawings, may not have been a reality if not for the fortitude of the senior centre members and dedicated Hamilton city staff, said Al Gordon, chair of the advisory board. Construction began last spring, but late last year there were some serious concerns about the slow progress to meet the federal government’s March 31 deadline to substantially complete the project and receive $500,000 in funding.
“We built this centre one brick at a time, one craft show at a time,” Gordon told the eager audience. “You deserve what you are about to see.”
After the slowdown, a new contractor began work and the construction continued. Gordon praised his 1,000-strong membership for enduring the hardships that allowed the work to continue. He said not one program was cancelled and the membership adapted to the limited space available.
The expansion includes 3,600 square feet of new building space, a 2,200-square-foot courtyard and a new septic system to handle the more than 65,000 visits to the popular Alberton Road facility.
ASAC advisory board member Helmi Kaufmann said the expanded centre will provide some relief for members.
“It’s a well-needed place to sit and have a coffee,” she said. “More people should come. A lot of people think it’s for old people. It’s for active people.”
Brad Kuhn said the expansion is long overdue and a welcome opportunity to showcase the facility.
“We are definitely happy. We just hope it meets the needs of a lot of people. We hope a lot of people will come out and say this is a place to come out and hang around.”