Action is being taken toward the eventual redevelopment of the Valley Park Manor site, says Alberta Health Services.
Spokeswoman Melissa Ballantyne said the building has been for sale since 2018.
Mayor Tara Veer told city council last week that it had cost provincial taxpayers an estimated $1 million (or about $100,000 a year) to mothball the empty facility — which was more than what demolition costs would have been when the site closed in 2010.
Ballantyne said the $100,000 annual cost was only the case for the first two years, when AHS was still paying for utilities for the building it owns.
Since 2013, the costs have been significantly less — about $10,000 annually — to provide regular security patrols around the former nursing home and grounds, said Ballantyne.
However, Veer stands by the estimated annual cost figure of $100,000, saying she has been in discussion with provincial ministers about about the wastefulness of this for many years and has never been corrected.
The provincial seniors and housing department reported in May 2014 that the former Valley Park Manor and the shuttered Red Deer nursing home were each costing $95,500 a year to maintain.
And in a 2017 Advocate article, the province reported that the two nursing homes had cost the province roughly $1.3 million to maintain since they were closed in 2010.
Complaints from Riverside Meadows community members about vagrants and illegal activities on the site led to the former seniors’ facility being boarded up, and Ballantyne hasn’t heard of any complaints since then.
Ballantyne is unsure of how much it would cost to knock the empty structure down, but said the amount is not within AHS’s budget.
Since the empty former manor is unfit for human habitation because of failed mechanical systems and asbestos, it would be up to a future owner to pull it down before the site could be redeveloped.
Veer feels this cost could be an obstacle to the site’s purchase.
Ballantyne wouldn’t comment on whether this additional cost is hampering the building’s sale. She noted the local real estate market appears slow in general, but AHS is still optimistic a buyer will be found.
Ballantyne noted a third-party buyer eventually was found for the Red Deer Nursing Home site, which had also sat vacant for many years.
Now, a larger new seniors’ complex is being built at this 30th Street site to replace Piper Creek Lodge.
Red Deer city Coun. Tanya Handley expressed concern on Friday about what would happen to the aged Piper Creek Lodge when it is emptied of clients. She’s feared it will also be left standing derelict for a decade.
But Geoff Olson, executive director of Bridges Community Living, which operates Piper Creek Lodge, said this will not be the case. He added some money has already been put aside to cover its eventual demolition costs.
Veer is glad to hear it.