Leslie Welin was grinning from ear to ear on Aug. 20 as the Clements Centre Society’s long-anticipated new facility in the south end of the Cowichan Valley officially opened.
Welin, the society’s chairwoman of the board, said it was a “thrilling day” as dozens of guests were in attendance to celebrate the opening of the approximately $990,000, 5,000 sq. ft. Stanko-Casswell Place on Princess Avenue in Cobble Hill, and take a tour of the new building.
“This has been many years in the making,” she said after the ribbon was cut by clients and staff at Stanko-Casswell Place.
“It was only possible due to the talent, generosity and goodwill of so many folks. This is really all about community and working together. We really appreciate working with Greca Construction and keeping the budget for the new building under $1 million as our board had instructed us to do.”
The new facility, which has been in operation for a number of weeks already, is replacing the smaller, aging and less accessible facility in a heritage church that the society had been using for years to deliver services to adults with disabilities in the Valley’s south end.
The province announced it would back the project with $250,000 from the Community Gaming Grants program in 2019, and the rest of the funding for the building came from the sale of adjacent property to the new facility, and individuals and service clubs that have stepped up to assist with equipment and landscaping.
The Clements Centre Society is one of the largest not-for-profit societies in the Cowichan Valley, and delivers community-based programs to almost 200 adults in the region.
Programs include supported recreational activities, vocational training and a residential program to connect clients with suitable housing options.
The new building features an open space for arts, crafts and education programs, sensory quiet rooms and a modern, accessible kitchen for cooking programs.
The facility is intended to provide a safe and accessible space for the society’s clients in the Valley’s south end, which has a growing population and a need for more accessible day programs.
Sheila Simpson, a mother of a client of the society for the past 10 years, said she and her daughter had moved around to a number of locations over the years to access the society’s services, but none are as wonderful and accommodating as Stanko-Casswell Place.
“Lots of thought and energy went into its construction,” she said.
“The programs the facility offers is special to a lot of people in the south end.”
Program coordinator Julia Ross said there are currently 14 clients accessing programs at the centre, and that is expected to grow to approximately 20 clients a day as a number of programs are planned to be combined.
“We have so much room now, as well as separate rooms for quieter activities,” she said.
“Our programs are expected to grow with this new facility.”
Welin added that Stanko-Casswell Place also has space that community groups can rent for meetings.
“It was part of the criteria when we designed the building because there is a dearth of space for groups to rent in this area,” she said.