Norfolk County takes charge of Delhi seniors club

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Delhi seniors will have a club to return to once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Norfolk County will fill the void now that the former board of directors has agreed to disband. That decision came in September in response to pandemic concerns about gathering indoors in congregate settings.

“There were 100 members at one time,” Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus told Norfolk council on Oct. 13. “They are victims of COVID-19 because most are seniors.”

Club members have not been able to gather at the Delhi Friendship Centre since the pandemic was declared in March. This has compromised their ability to raise funds at a time when their annual fixed costs for the use of the facility – nearly $8,000 – remain on the books.

Since the global pandemic was declared in March, older demographics have proved especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

In the early months of the pandemic, COVID-19 took a heavy toll on some long-term care homes where frail seniors were already coping with underlying vulnerabilities. Public health officials have consistently advised against seniors gathering indoors in large numbers during the pandemic.


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In a report to council, Susie Wray, Norfolk’s supervisor of community programs, says there were about 100 regulars at the Friendship Centre at the time of dissolution. Wray said the club was vital, active and recognized by the Ministry of Seniors and Accessiblity as a Seniors Active Living Centre (SALC) in good standing and eligible for provincial grants.

Noting that there are 263 SALCs in Ontario, Wray says the province has temporarily suspended recognizing new ones and that the designation in Delhi should not be surrendered as it could be difficult to retrieve.

“The decision to dissolve this club will affect the opportunities for seniors to be actively engaged in their community,” Wray says in her report.

“Past programs and services offered include cards, billiards, social luncheons, foot-care clinics, painting classes, fitness classes, private rentals and seasonal events.

“SALC designation is heavily sought after and something that should not be given up unless there is no future expectation that it will be required in the community.”

Norfolk County assuming administrative responsibility for the Delhi Township Senior Citizens Club will put it on an equal footing with the Simcoe Seniors Centre. Norfolk County serves as the SALC in Simcoe as well.

Over the past three years, Norfolk’s support of the Delhi seniors centre has cost about $9,300 annually.

During the pandemic, the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility is encouraging SALCs to continue offering programming by video link or over the phone. Virtual programming is available for fitness programs, social gatherings and the like.

Norfolk council directed staff to notify the relevant provincial officials that the county wishes to assume responsibility for seniors functions in Delhi.

Community services staff has been asked to prepare programming for when the Friendship Centre resumes normal operations.

“It would be expected that the costs to the taxpayer would be no more than the existing costs in the levy budget if this option were supported,” Wray says.

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