By GILLIAN SLADE on August 28, 2020.
It has been 45 years since the first vision of the Veiner Centre emerged.
At a council meeting in October 1973, Mayor Harry Veiner offered an acre of land for the development of a senior citizens’ recreation facility.
In March 1974 an architectural drawing was approved by city council.
“The Veiner Centre is needed now,” reads a News story from the time. “It will be needed in the future. It should be built as a service to senior citizens who have made their contributions to the community’s growth and development and well-being.”
The province had covered 80 per cent of the cost and the city chipped in the other 20.
“Medicine Hat was very lucky. In the past three years seniors have been top priority with the provincial government,” said Bill Wyse, who in February 1977 was co-ordinator of Medicine Hat senior citizens services.
The Veiner Centre, open seven days a week, was known as a “multi-purpose social service and cultural drop-in and information facility” available to all residents more than 50 years old.
There was a housing registry to assist seniors in finding affordable accommodation – a concept passed by city council in February 1977.
There was home help support and minor maintenance services for those over 60 or who had a disability. Services included lawn mowing, hedge trimming and shovelling snow.
You could take courses there in sewing, jewellery making, defensive driving, banking, cooking, fitness, art, wills and estate planing, woodworking, candle making gift wrapping, income tax, home repairs, public speaking, needlework and basketry. A loved one could be brought to the Veiner Centre for a hot meal in a safe environment allowing the caregiver some respite.
Mary Anne Jablonski, the provincial minister for seniors, visited in January 2010. She heard how use of the fitness centre had increased by 247 per cent in four years. Local doctors had begun suggesting that those recovering from hip and knee replacement surgery, join the Veiner Centre to benefit from its fitness centre.
There were 1,732 members in 2009.
In addition to Meals on Wheels there was also a program called Wheels to Meals. Volunteers provided rides to seniors, who seldom got out, for a midday banquet at the Veiner Centre about once a month. Hundreds of people attended not only enjoying the meal but the vital socialization and informal entertainment.
The 2013 flood damage to the building resulted in drastic changes.