Loading articles...

Vancouver banquet hall vying to be community-based COVID-19 vaccination site

Last Updated Feb 16, 2021 at 1:53 pm PST

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool

Italian Cultural Centre hopes to be a welcoming place for people to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations

Il Centro's executive director feels venue is an ideal location due to large parking lot, proximity to SkyTrain

Operators of Italian Cultural Centre say ballroom is spacious enough to host vaccination clinic

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A venue in Vancouver that many families had booked for weddings and other events before the pandemic started could be one of the facilities enlisted by the provincial government to help immunize thousands more people every day.

The Italian Cultural Centre (Il Centro), now located at Slocan and South Grandview Highway, has been hosting events and gatherings since 1977. Executive Director Mario Miceli says Il Centro is much more than a banquet hall.

“All the people’s lives that we’ve touched over those years, it would be nice for some of them to come back and have their vaccination here in a facility that they’re comfortable with. [It isn’t] this sterile, clinical environment. It’s actually a place where people have made some lifetime memories,” he said.

He believes the centre is an ideal location because it’s only five minutes away from the Renfrew station on SkyTrain’s Millenium line.

“We not only serve the Italian community, but the bordering community all around our location. We think that people come here because they’ve been here in the past, are able to attend at our facility, and have a comfort level because they’re familiar with the surroundings. It’s not a clinical setting,” he explained.

Related article: Canada’s vaccine supply from Europe remains secure: Trudeau

Miceli says he’s grateful for the support they’ve already received from health authorities who’ve indicated they need safe sites already equipped with their own tables, chairs, and freezers to store vaccine.

“We have a secure facility,” he said. The entrances have been considered and we’re also talking about if more security is required, we can make sure that we provide that for the facility to make sure that the patrons are safe here.”

He adds Il Centro’s parking lot, which has enough space for 170 cars, is also large enough to accommodate a drive-thru clinic.

“We have a substantial ballroom that can be used for internal vaccinations, but we also have a very large parking lot that, if they determine or decide at any point in time that a drive-thru would be effective, we can also service that. But at this point, it is simply an internal event,” he said.

Related article: Operators of Vancouver’s Italian Cultural Centre seek clarity over COVID-19 order to close banquet halls

Miceli tells NEWS 1130 a detailed plan has been finalized and will be shared immediately with the team in charge of the mass rollout for community-based immunization. That team is headed by the chair of the Vancouver Coastal Health Board of Directors, Dr. Penny Ballem.

As for how soon that plan may be approved, Miceli says no deadline has been set.