Stay active in mind and body at SHOAL Centre

From club meetings and events to catered dinners and even weddings, the SHOAL Centre has plenty of space

Table tennis is one of the more popular activities at Sidney’s SHOAL Activity Centre

“It’s a pretty happening and vital place.”

Anna Hudson isn’t overstating what goes on in Sidney’s SHOAL Activity Centre on Resthaven Drive. The activities and rental co-ordinator, Hudson is there to help deliver a variety of programs to the Centre’s approximately 700 members. Most of those are seniors but Hudson and acting director of SHOAL Glenys Cavers say they cater to the entire community.

From club meetings and events to catered dinners and even weddings, the SHOAL Centre has plenty of space — and that space is regularly filled with artistic, cultural and active endeavours.

Hudson said people don’t have to live in the SHOAL Centre’s 30 assisted living units (run by Beacon Community Services and funded through Island Health) or 50 attached condos to be members. In fact, the Activity Centre members come from throughout the Saanich Peninsula and even from Victoria. It costs only $46 a year to be a member and allows people to access a variety of things, from workshops to pottery classes. The Centre is also open to the general public — one doesn’t have to be  a member to take part.

“We have a huge roster of drop-in activities,” Hudson said, “and we offer a variety of registered programs too.” Yoga, she said, and table tennis are pretty popular at the Centre these days. Cavers added the Minds in Motion program, run by the dementia society, is a popular course for seniors, their families and caregivers.

What the SHOAL Activity Centre tries to do, they say, is meet the needs of its members and the community. To that end, their workers and volunteers talk to people, get new ideas and are always trying new things.

Hudson said the range and scope of activities is broken up into three groups: junior seniors (age 40 to 70), middle seniors (70-85) and senior seniors (85-plus). In this way, the activities can be tailored to the needs and abilities of each group. That’s only the general outline, of course. Hudson said she sees people who might start to work on their mobility, for instance, and move from low-impact fitness to more intense activity later on.

“As we become active agers, health becomes the number one priority,” Hudson said.

And that health focus is not only looking at one’s physical well-being, but the social and mental health of the community.

Creativity is also an important component of live at the SHOAL Activity Centre. There are arts, music and crafts on offer — as well as plenty of bridge.

The Centre has been a focal point for seniors and community activities on the Saanich Peninsula since it opened in 2005. At that time, it was operated in a partnership between the Town of Sidney and Silver Threads. Beacon Community Services took over in April of 2007. The Centre, added Hudson, will mark its 10th year in 2015.

To learn more about the SHOAL Activity Centre and its programs, visit or drop by the Centre any time.