A PoCo arts student says her elderly classmates feel blindsided and betrayed by the city's decision to move five arts classes from Wilson Centre to the nearby Leigh Square Arts Village.
The shift will see the classes move as of January 2013, and according to 60-year-old Tracey Dobney, many of her classmates are upset.
"It's their connection with the Wilson Centre that they're losing," she said. "For a lot of them, it's the isolation of being aged that is a big problem. They come here and they know everybody."
Dobney is quick to point out she doesn't have a problem with the move, and referred to the Leigh Square Arts Village as a "really nice set up" in an interview Tuesday morning.
"I'd be happy to go there," she said. "But it's the older people who feel that the Wilson Centre is their place."
Speaking on behalf of her classmates, Dobney said their issues include insufficient parking and consultation prior to the move, as well as the lack of a lunch room at Leigh Square.
Rob Sullivan, PoCo's adult and access services coordinator, countered each of those points when contacted by The NOW.
He noted Wilson Centre is at capacity for the programs it offers, and members of the Wilson Centre Seniors' Advisory Association were told a potential move could be in the works while the group was in the process of drafting its strategic plan a year ago.
"In the plan, the association identified the [Wilson Centre's] inability to grow programs and services due to the lack of space," Sullivan wrote in an e-mail. "The association also requested adult and senior programs be offered throughout the city. With the Leigh Square Community Arts Village being only two blocks away from the Wilson Centre, and it being specifically designed and built for artists and art programs, it is a natural fit the art programs move to Leigh Square."
He also noted no programs are being axed and, in fact, the arts program is expected to grow once the move is complete due to the larger space available at Leigh Square.
"There is ample free parking and local businesses providing food services [near Leigh Square]," Sullivan added. "The Wilson Centre and [Leigh Square] are only a couple of blocks apart, so the art class participants could easily access the Wilson Centre food services."