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Expansion shines bright

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

The sun is shining brightly both literally and figuratively at the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre.

In the darkest days of winter, members of the ASAC were in a somber mood as their $1.75-million expansion project sputtered and eventually ground to a halt. The contractor wasn’t measuring up, and there were concerns the project wouldn’t meet a March 31, 2014, deadline imposed by the federal government to receive vital funding. At one point, the centre’s furnace quit, leaving members literally in the cold.

But after a switch to a new contractor, work accelerated and the membership tucked in their stomachs, wiped their brows and pushed on. It also helped that the centre bought a new furnace to keep them warm, especially during this severe winter season. And even though they held their annual pancake breakfast in the centre’s hallway, the event managed to become a rousing success, said Al Gordon, chair of the advisory board.

“I really praise the membership,” said Gordon. “They held together. There were times there were some sour moods. But they just accepted it and got back to work. I give staff a tremendous amount of credit. They got on with their business meeting any problems with a smile.”

With over 1,000 members to serve, Gordon said only one program was cancelled during the disruption.

With about six weeks left before the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for what Gordon calls a “game changing” expansion, the sun is beaming through new glass windows in the forecourt as the new meeting area, reception and lobby area, kitchenette, pergola and Japanese garden provide a vision for the future.

“It is looking beautiful,” said Gordon. “And we are going into the new centre debt free.”

A few months ago, the membership was forced to hold their many events in a hallway since their other rooms were filled with construction material. Today, music and dance classes are being held, people are working in the wood shop, and members are taking tea and cookies and mingling with a smile on their faces.

There are the tell-tale signs of work already completed with a renovated health room, complete with lime green tiles, and an immaculately clean bathroom. Workers were measuring out the space for a new café, the kitchenette has taken shape and the drainage system was being installed for the Japanese garden. Although the fireplace has yet to be built in the reception and welcoming area, the new offices look ready, and a walkway, which will house paintings, is nearing completion.

Part of the renovations included installing a new septic system to handle the more than 65,000 visits to the popular centre.

The expansion, which did meet the March 31 deadline by being “substantially completed,” includes 3,600-square-feet of new building space, and a 2,200-square-foot courtyard. The centre’s share of the $1.75-million cost is $500,000.  The federal government and the city provided $500,000 each, while the provincial government chipped in with $250,000.

Gordon said the centre exceeded its fundraising goal, raising $125,000 so far, of which $100,000 will go towards the $400,000 the centre already earmarked for the renovations. But Gordon said the centre won’t stop its fundraising efforts because there are still needs. New furniture, media and audio systems and an alarm with security cameras are all on the priority list, he said.

The security equipment, which in this day and age is needed even in rural Alberton, will be installed later, he said.

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