Blackfalds seniors housing project moves forward
Town of Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole, former mayor and Bethany Group Stakeholder Relations Advisor, and Chief Administrative Officer Myron Thompson pose for a photo following council's decision to enter into a partnership with the Lacombe Foundation for a seniors housing project. (Town of Blackfalds photo)
An affordable seniors housing initiative is now moving forward in the Town of Blackfalds.
On Tuesday, town council directed administration to enter into a formal partnership with the Lacombe Foundation, and through them, the Bethany Group, to commence the planning of the project.
“This is a really important part of our town’s long range programs and planning,” said Town of Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to work with Bethany and the Lacombe Foundation and move forward with these projects.”
A Letter of Understanding will be drafted, which will will be followed by the transfer land purchased at the corner of Broadway Ave. and South St. for the project, as well as financing and construction.
Council also gave approval to a project schedule in principle, which outlines the project going to tender in 2019, with residents selected in 2020 and occupancy the following year.
The project is aimed at addressing a lack of affordable housing needs for the community’s older members, as well as alleviated waitlists at nearby facilities. Forming a partnership with the Lacombe Foundation was necessary to facilitate the project.
“The Town of Blackfalds doesn’t have the expertise nor the resources for a project like this,” said CAO Myron Thompson, who also noted the town has had a problem retaining seniors in the past, as facilities supporting their health and housing needs have not existed.
“There is a need for us to partner and it’s very clear that the relationship we have with Lacombe Foundation and they Bethany Group will be key in a successful project.”
FCSS Manager Sue Bornn echoed the statement.
“Everyone needs a place to call home, and today’s council decision will help move forward affordable, accessible housing for our seniors,” she said. “We look forward to working with The Lacombe Foundation and the Bethany Group to make this project a reality.”
The Lacombe Foundation is the local housing management body and was started in 1960.
The Bethany Group is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization contracted by the Lacombe Foundation. It first began in 1922 in Bawlf, Alta. and now operated in 29 communities through Central Alberta and serves the health and housing needs of over 3,500 clients. The two have been partners since 2011.
Abbey Centre rates and fees
Town council voted 5-1 in favour of amending the bylaw to officially increase user fee rates at the Abbey Centre.
Effective Jan. 1, 2018, rates will increase 50 cents across the board, with the exception of youth, which will see a full dollar increase.
The topic resulted in some debate during the last council meeting, ranging from concerns over how competitive the centre’s rates were compared to facilities in neighbouring communities to whether children under two or three years of age should be allowed to enter free of charge.
On Tuesday, debate returned again, this time over the creation of a new youth category.
Deputy Mayor Will Taylor suggested rolling back the one dollar increase for youth to match the child rate, until administration explained the cost covers the difference in supervision, as children over the age of eight can use the facility without a parent.
Some concern remained over keeping costs low for low-income families, however, Coun. Jamie Hoover suggested creating more awareness about the town’s pass program, which further lowers costs for those who can’t afford the regular rates.
Coun. Rebecca Stendie voted against amending the bylaw.
Council will not have another meeting in 2017. Meetings will resume in January 2018 on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.