CALGARY CHINESE SENIORS' CENTRE
Architect: Clem Lau
Builder: TriCo Homes
Before this building was built, the CCECA was originally housed in a Centre Street shopping centre (which was later replacd by Dragon City Mall in the early 1990s.)
CALGARY CHINESE SENIORS' CENTRE FOOTPRINT
1911 / 1961
Before the senior centre was built, the land was an empty, grassy field for decades. Today, the field adjacent to the Centre is the south side of Sien Lok Park.
with liza chan (executive director of the calgary chinese elderly citizens' association)
+ What’s your story? How long have you been involved with CCECA and with the Chinatown community?
I earned my B.A. in Recreation Administration from the University of Alberta and started my career in Hong Kong in the areas of recreation, personnel and public relations. Then I came back to Calgary in 1991. I started to work at the CCECA in December 1994 and became a registered social worker later.
When I started, I worked in a basement of around 2,000 square feet with five staff and moved to the current Calgary Chinatown Seniors’ center in 1995. As of 2020, we have 28 staff and 400 volunteers. I’ve worked with many incredible staff members and volunteers to make CCECA the only accredited senior center in Alberta. We are the only Chinese senior center in Alberta (maybe in Canada) that has a building dedicated to Chinese seniors. I am passionate about my work at the CCECA, the Chinese community and people that I serve.
+ When was the CCECA building constructed?
In 1985, the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens’ Association (CCECA) was founded. The building, Calgary Chinatown Seniors’ Centre, was built in 1995.
+ What was on this land before this building was built?
How was the land acquired?
Nothing was on this land before.
It is city land, part of Sien Lok Park. The City of Calgary granted this land to CCECA on a 15-year lease, and we pay only $10 per year to lease the land.
+ Can you tell me about the history behind the building’s design development and about the construction process?
The design arose from the sentiment that seniors thought they didn’t have a place for themselves. Around 32% of Chinatown population are seniors (around 600; in 2020 there were around 2,000 residents in Chinatown). The building was spearheaded by the Calgary Chinatown Seniors’ center Foundation (CCSCF).
CCECA used to be in a very smoky basement, and moved several times.
In 1991, we started to fundraise, and the building construction was completed in 1995. We (CCSCF) wanted a lot of sunlight. Clem Lau was the building architect — Clem used to be a volunteer in the community. Trico Homes was the builder. 25 years ago, it cost about a million dollars in construction fees.
We moved in at the end of 1995. The organization has been able to grow so much in the past 25 years because of the building; from a staff of 5 to 25. The space has made a difference — it truly feels like a “second home for Chinese seniors” with wraparound services in the area of social/recreation, education, health (both physical and mental) and many other social service programs (outreach, health interpretation, free tax clinic, Chinese community helpers, volunteer handy persons, etc).
In the building, there are three floors and a basement. On the third floor is the memorial with donation plaques, which helped to fundraise for the building.
+ What was the decision behind the building’s design of three tiers?
Three floors are the maximum height allowed, and of course we had budget constraints.
Red ornament gives the building “Chinese character”. Plus there is a requirement from the Chinatown Area Redevelopment Plan that we should have Chinese character within new designs in Chinatown.