Two social hangouts for local seniors in Turner Valley are getting a little TLC thanks to $35,000 in federal grant funds to improve their buildings.
The federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors Program is allocating $25,000 to replace the air conditioning and light fixtures at the Valley Neighbours Club and $10,000 to replace flooring at the Royal Canadian Legion Turner Valley Branch. The announcement was made March 31.
Linda Macaulay, first vice-president of the Legion, said the original hardwood and worn down carpet has needed replacing for years.
“There’s no more fixing of the hardwood floors in the veteran’s hall,” said Macaulay. “It’s so thin now. It has gouges and can’t be stained.”
Near the bar, the carpeted floor contains a slight bump from an addition to the 88-year-old building decades ago that has caused some people to stumble, said Macaulay.
She expects the flooring will be installed when the legion is closed for six weeks this summer.
“That will give us lots of time,” she said. “We use that time to clean up and do touch ups like repaint the walls and make repairs.”
The building has received New Horizons for Seniors Program funding for years, said Macaulay. Last year it paid for two furnaces and three air conditioning units and in another year it covered the replacement of the ceiling, she said.
“We don’t have enough money from our general funds to pay for these,” she said. “That’s why we apply for the grants, otherwise none of this would get done. We wouldn’t have new flooring, we wouldn’t have new furnaces. That’s why we are grateful for this government grant.”
The Valley Neighbours Club (VNC) will replace its air conditioning units and light fixtures this summer.
Philip Pack, VNC past president, said the air conditioning units are reaching their life expectancy.
“They are functional, but the advice we had from the contractor was there was potential for at least one of them to malfunction in the near future, so we just decided we should upgrade and get the new technology,” he said.
Pack said New Horizons has funded various projects for the VNC including purchasing new kitchen equipment and upgrading the flooring in the kitchen.
“We are very fortunate to be able to access the New Horizons grants as we have in the past,” he said. “That helps our cash management.”
Secretary Sylvia Binkley said air conditioning is very important to seniors who socialize in the building.
“Many of us are in our 80s and 90s,” she said. “On a hot summer’s day, everybody can get a bit irritable – more so than younger people. There is no flow of air from the front to the back, there is no windows in the back at all. Occasionally we open the door but it’s a big heavy fire door and that’s kind of a nuisance.”
Binkley said the grant is essential for the building.
“We would be hard pressed if we didn’t have the money,” she said.
Foothills MP John Barlow said he understands the importance of the funding to keep these buildings operating.
“Especially in the rural communities some of these facilities have been really a keystone to these communities,” he said. “It’s where people have been married and generations have celebrated anniversaries and special occasions.”
Many facilities are several decades old and often the groups operating them don’t have the money required to keep up with larger maintenance projects, said Barlow.
Barlow added the VNC and legion are essential parts of the social fabric of Turner Valley.
“It offers an opportunity for (seniors) to get out and be active and see their friends,” he said. “For the legion, it’s not just about the social atmosphere. It also offers some very important services for our veterans in the area. It’s very critical that we keep that up and running.”