By Shaun Markey –
A quick, midmorning stroll through the Dovercourt Recreation Centre is all the evidence one needs to conclude that this multi- purpose facility is a busy place – very busy.
On this day, like all days apparently, it appears to the casual observer that every available space at Dovercourt is being put to good and constant use.
Executive Director, John Rapp, along with a volunteer board of directors, has watched Dovercourt become the busiest community centre in Ottawa. In fact, the 27-year-old not-for-profit facility currently serves 20,000 clients who make roughly 400,000 visits a year. Its success, however, has meant that demand for programs and services have outstripped the available space at the centre.
Interestingly, Dovercourt is a “social enterprise,” meaning that the Centre is not for profit and managed by a community-based Board of Directors. There is little government funding involved and the Dovercourt social enterprise, on its own, has raised several million dollars since its inception in 1987 to fund ongoing operations and an earlier expansion.
Over the intervening years, Dovercourt has become integral to the Westboro community, and beyond. The Centre has 32 full-time staff and employs 210 part-time staff.
Given the increasing demand and the desire to respond to it, John and the board were faced with two options: do nothing and stay the existing course, knowing that there were many individuals in the Westboro community that could not be served, or raise roughly $1.2 million dollars for a building expansion. As John so succinctly put it: “Doing nothing was not an option. We don’t know how to stop!”
A meeting with the original architect, Barry Hobin, led to a plan to expand the front section of the building by some 2,000 square feet thereby creating a new multi-purpose hall (deemed the Morris Home Team Room) to accommodate fitness programs as well as a variety of additional activities for seniors and preschoolers. Expanding in that direction means no loss of existing parking and no impact on the adjacent open spaces behind the existing complex.
With money from Dovercourt and the City of Ottawa, the board is hoping to round out the funding with community and corporate donations. To that effect, John and his staff are busy organizing fundraising activities which will include an auction of some terrific items in the near future.
Several local businesses are already key supporters of the Centre’s latest building project. They include Farm Boy, Morris Home Team, Carling Motors Co., Hobin Architecture Incorporated and Ottawa Sport and Physiotherapy Clinic.
Various levels of sponsorships are being offered at this time. The Brick by Brick bronze level sponsorship ($1,000 to $3,000), the Brick Works sponsorship silver level $3,001 to $5,000) and the Brick and Mortar sponsorship gold level ($5,001 to $10,000). Each donor will receive an engraved brick with their family or business name. (Act now and get your brick in the wall, advises John.)
John is confident that the new expansion will break ground as soon as possible and be completed in 2017 – just in time for Dovercourt’s 30th anniversary.