Veiner Centre design approved

By Gillian Slade on August 3, 2016.

City council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to proceed with renovations and an addition to the Veiner Centre for $11.6 million.

There is virtually nothing about the finished building that will bear any resemblance to the Veiner Centre, according to a drawing displayed by the architect at the meeting.

A presentation by the architect, from FWBA Architects, showed what looked like a brand new building. The exterior finish on the VC was damaged in the 2013 flood and has to be replaced. The VC is also transformed from a long narrow building with only small windows on the south side into one with style.

However, the decision and a presentation about the plans did not provoke applause from about 100 seniors who attending the council meeting.

At least one member of council also felt the need to apologize.

Coun. Les Pearson said he was "deeply apologetic," and although the design was not the perfect solution the delay had been long enough. He said it was time to end the "hurt, anger and mistrust." It is also time to "end ageism" demonstrated on council, said Pearson.

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While the plan was not perfect, Coun. Robert Dumanowski said he was "pleased" and it was a plan he could endorse.

Renovations to the main floor of the VC will cover 1,418 square metres, and the building will be expanded on both the north and south ends for the building for another 642 square metres. The western half of the building will undergo a major renovation including the removal and replacement of the slab-on-grade floor, a city document says.

There will be a new commercial kitchen with exterior access, washrooms and a patio that will be shared with the Lions Club as a replacement for the Lions Kitchen that will be demolished.

Coun. Jamie McIntosh called the proposal "exceptional."

The VC will not have a fitness centre. This will be located at Strathcona Centre because the city felt that location is more dedicated to physical programs with the community swimming pool being there.

Historically, seniors have walked or driven between the two facilities, said the city's CAO Merete Heggelund.

Dumanowski questioned whether a fitness centre could still be added to the VC. The response was that it would cost more. There were questions about the options available for moving seniors from one building to the other or building a canopy for an existing pathway between the two.

Heggelund said the rationale during planning had been that the people who would be more inclined to use the fitness centre are generally more able to get themselves back to the VC either by walking or driving themselves.

In an ideal world there would be one facility with everything required, said Coun. Julie Friesen. This plan is not ideal but it is pretty good, she said.

After three years of planning this is finally something everyone can agree on and embrace the vision for the future, said Friesen.

The possibility of solar panels for the south-facing roof is also under consideration, the architect said.

The city anticipates having to remove 25 trees. These will later be replaced with three new trees for every one chopped down.

Complying with zoning requirements and completing the design documents by the architect is expected to take until October. The project is expected to go to tender in January.

Depending on the weather, construction could begin in early spring of 2017. Construction is expected to take 12 to 15 months and completion is expected two years from now — "summer 2018," a city document says.

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