The oldest seniors’ home in Alberta — Red Deer’s Piper Creek Lodge — will be replaced by 2021 after the provincial government invested $28-million in creating a new 100-unit complex.
Wednesday’s announcement by Red Deer MLAs Barb Miller and Kim Schreiner on behalf of the seniors and housing ministry, was met with excitement by staff and residents.
“I think it’s wonderful! I hope I live that long,” said Blanche Hanson, who has resided at the 63-year-old lodge on 33rd Street for the past 11 years.
The new 100-unit nursing home will be built several blocks south, on 30th Street at Bremner Avenue — the current site of the shut-down Red Deer Nursing Home.
Darren Young, chair of Bridges Community Living, which runs Piper Creek Lodge, said funding for a replacement building was a long time coming, taking “four MLAs, three ministers, two governments and a foundation name change.” But he’s glad it’s happening at last.
Schreiner later noted it took a couple more years to do a needs assessment and then plan for additional spaces in the new nursing home. “The day has come, and I’m happy it’s today,” the Red Deer North MLA said.
While the existing lodge was well maintained, it was built in 1956 with 65 units. As many of these don’t have adequate bathrooms, only 45 residents can now live in the aging structure, said lodge manager Diane Goodwin.
Meanwhile, 100 people are on a list, waiting to get into the lower-income facility.
Geoff Olson, executive-director of Bridges Community Living, said construction of the new nursing home could begin later this year — after demolition of the former Red Deer Nursing Home.
Red deer South MLA Miller noted that asbestos must first be removed from the old building.
Once the new structure is completed in 2021 with 65 rooms and 35 stand-alone apartments, residents of Piper Creek Lodge will be moved to the new facility and the 63-year-old building will be torn down, Miller added.
The 92-year-old Hanson said she wouldn’t mind a collective kitchen in which she can do some baking.
Ken Armstrong, 88, who’s lived at Piper Creek Lodge since he was 65, said he loves the staff, but the existing rooms are quite small, so it would be nice to have a more space.
Olson said residents and staff will be consulted before a design is finalized for the new building. He envisions some units having their own kitchens, in case seniors prefer to cook for themselves instead of going to the dining room.
Acting Red Deer Mayor Frank Wong welcomed the new construction, saying that more affordable housing is needed in Red Deer, so seniors can continue to live near their families and friends.
Lori Sigurdson, minister of seniors and housing, said the New Democrat government is pleased to make the investment so seniors can age in their own communities.”