Sydney seniors club says its future is threatened by loss of free parking

·2 min read

A seniors club in downtown Sydney, N.S., can no longer use the parking lot beside its building for free.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is converting 12-14 parking spaces used by Club 55 members into paid spaces. Each club member currently pays $15 annually to maintain the lot.

Louie Hawco, the vice-president of Club 55, anticipates membership numbers will drop 90 per cent if the municipality proceeds with its plan.

"If we lose our membership, we lose the club," said Hawco. "That's the bottom line."

The club, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, offers social activities allowing seniors to interact. Activities include chair exercise and darts.

Brent Kelloway/CBC
Brent Kelloway/CBC

Hawco said their building is easily accessible for those with walkers, canes and wheelchairs.

He said if people have to park a few blocks away "half of them wouldn't be able to do it."

He said most of the seniors are unable to get dropped off as many live alone and they need to have a place to park their car.

Brent Kelloway/CBC
Brent Kelloway/CBC

Club member Anita Sampson Binder said this is not just an issue of parking, but one of inclusion.

"This is part of how our members participate in the downtown core," said Sampson Binder. "Rather than negotiating a curb or parallel parking on Charlotte Street, they're able to park in our parking lot right here by the door."

Club looked at purchasing lot in past

Hawco and Sampson Binder said they have been trying to renew their lease for the parking lot with CBRM for the last three years, but did not hear an answer until recently.

Coun. Eldon MacDonald, who represents the area, confirmed this.

"That parking lot is now available to anybody that wants to park," he said.

MacDonald said the club did approach CBRM to buy the lot close to 20 years ago, but the documentation required by council was never received.