The M.D. of Bonnyville council has approved annual funding for seniors’ societies in Bonnyville, Cold Lake, and Glendon.

The Bonnyville Seniors Drop-In Centre, the Cold Lake Seniors’ Society, and the Glendon and District Seniors Citizens Club will each receive $15,000 per year to support their operations.

“We’re thrilled,” said Germaine Prybysh, president of the Bonnyville Seniors Drop-In Centre. “We’ve been hoping for this for quite a number of years.”

“The previous M.D. council felt the onus was on the Town of Bonnyville to help us out,” she said. But approximately one third of the Centre’s membership lives in the M.D, so Prybysh said there is a role for the M.D. to support them.

M.D. of Bonnyville reeve Greg Sawchuk says the seniors’ centres are important to the quality of life for the district’s older residents. 

“Remaining active both mentally and physically, and that social interaction they get through these halls, is very important. So council felt it was important to recognize these halls and what they give back to the seniors and their well-being,” he said.

In the past, seniors’ clubs have benefitted from some corporate sponsorship to help pay the bills. Sawchuk says council recognizes the sponsorship climate has changed with the slow economy.

“Business sponsorship is somewhat drying up out there,” he said. “It’s very lean for a lot of businesses, and so where they were able to give before, they are unable to now.”

Karen Amalia, president of the Glendon and District Senior Citizens’ Club, says the funding will go a long way. “It’ll certainly help keep our doors open and pay for utilities which have gone up,” she said.

The club usually generates revenue through hall rentals, but the Covid-19 measures have put a stop to that for now. The funding from the M.D. will help keep things going for seniors when the club opens its doors again.

“Right now, they’re really missing it. And hopefully it won’t be too long before we can get back together,” Amalia said. About half of the club’s members live in the M.D.

Cold Lake Seniors’ Society president Ray Coates said that not
only do M.D. residents make up a significant portion of their membership, there are regional activities where the local clubs cooperate. 

“I think it’s great that the M.D. has done this in recognition of that,” he said.

“It’s very welcome news. We can’t wait till we can get back into our centre and start providing services to our seniors. Because for a lot of them, I think we were the social centre and now that’s gone. And we want to get back—when it’s safe.”

Funding from the M.D. of Bonnyville means that local seniors’ clubs will be able to serve their members when everything returns to normal.  JEFF GAYE