Waterloo Region Record

$3.1M cash infusion for seniors’ centre and library

- JEFF OUTHIT Waterloo Region Record jouthit@therecord.com Twitter: @OuthitReco­rd

WATERLOO — Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger got a warm welcome in her riding and with reason: she brought a cheque for $3.1 million from the federal government.

It will be spent to help build a seniors’ complex and a new library branch, covering about eight per cent of combined building costs.

Chagger, a cabinet minister in the Liberal government, announced the funding Wednesday while Mayor Dave Jaworsky looked on.

“It’s yet another reminder of how we all love Waterloo,” Chagger said.

She once served on a library task force and lives in the same ward that’s getting a new library branch.

“It’s nice when it’s in your community and just around the corner,” she said.

“To say that we are pleasantly surprised would be an understate­ment,” Jaworsky said.

Waterloo is closing its two aging seniors’ centres to consolidat­e at a new facility estimated to cost more than $27 million. It could open in stages by 2022 at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.

The new library branch for the city’s east side is planned to open in 2021 at an estimated cost of $10 million. It will be attached to the RIM Park recreation complex and it will be the city’s fourth branch.

The new seniors’ facility is council’s response, in part, to the grey wave rolling over Waterloo.

The 2016 census found that Waterloo has fewer children than in 2001. It is on track to become the first local city with more seniors than children under 14.

That’s got city council thinking about how to meet recreation needs, for example, by adding spaces for senior-friendly activities such as dance-driven Zumba exercise classes or Pickleball, a court-based paddle sport.

“It’s a huge range to try to find activities and pursuits,” said Rick Chambers, a volunteer who’s helping Waterloo become more age-friendly. “We can have dance classes with grandmas and grandkids.”

Senior-friendly constructi­on planned on Father David Bauer Drive includes:

• Adding a gymnasium to the front of the recreation complex, to include lobby space, change rooms, lockers and office space.

• Renovating the Hauser Haus inside the complex to hold more fitness classes in two exercise studios. This would include an indoor walking concourse.

• Adding a two-storey building beside the complex to use for adult recreation, and as a community pavilion. It would connect by an enclosed bridge to the second floor of the complex.

Design highlights for the new library include a sheltered outdoor entrance, a “maker space” for digital technologi­es, a room for band practice, and flexible program space and furniture.

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