By Mike Pearson, News staff
Provincial expansion funding for the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre (ASAC) is still possible, Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin said on Monday.
McMeekin encouraged Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson to make a formal request for expansion funding through city council. Ferguson’s motion asking the province for $250,000 was approved by the city’s general issues committee on Jan. 30 and ratified by city council on Jan. 31.
While $1.5 million in funding has already been secured, additional provincial funds would help expand the scope of project for a total budget of $1.75 million.
Provincial funding is far from guaranteed, but McMeekin said the project is near the top of his priority list.
“I’m exploring the possibility of acquiring funding for three different projects in the city, the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre being one,” McMeekin said.
McMeekin acknowledged the dollars will be hard to find at a time when the province is already grappling with a $14-billion deficit. He declined to name the other two projects he’s reviewing.
“Those applications are not as complete and I don’t want to build false hope,” he said.
McMeekin noted his government recently announced $42 million in one-time transition funding to offset the loss of the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit.
“Now you have to make a better case (for funding),” said McMeekin, who is returning to Queen’s Park along with premier-designate Kathleen Wynne.
The ASAC upgrade, slated to begin this spring, includes a new lobby, lounge and library area on the west side of the city-owned building at 622 Alberton Rd. S. Plans also include a 2,262 square-foot garden courtyard, a new multi-purpose area, café and additional program space.
With more than 1,000 members, the senior centre’s usage increased from 49,000 visitors in 2009 to 62,000 in 2011.
During a Jan. 23 project launch, Al Gordon, chair of the ASAC advisory board, said added funds would help expand the centre’s kitchen area. With more than 1,000 members, the senior centre’s usage increased from 49,000 visitors in 2009 to 62,000 in 2011.
Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson said the kitchen upgrade will be added as a provisional item to the expansion plan. He hopes to receive a response from the province as soon as possible.
“We’ve got to hear soon because we’re going to do the kitchen which is an enhancement of the original design.”
The advisory board has an expansion reserve fund of more than $400,000 and has pledged $500,000 towards the project. The city of Hamilton is also contributing $500,000 along with matching funding from the federal government through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund. Unlike other economic stimulus packages, the CIIF program did not include a matching provincial component.
Last fall, the city submitted 18 applications for CIIF money, with the ASAC project ranked at number one. As of this week, the senior centre was the only municipal facility in Hamilton approved for funding.