Funding for a new seniors lodge in Rimbey has been announced — officially this time.
The $13.3-million cash infusion has been the worst kept secret in town since April 15, when Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin controversially spilled the beans.
Both the province and Rimoka Housing Foundation, which provides senior and social housing services in Ponoka County and the towns of Ponoka and Rimbey, criticized Anglin’s announcement as premature.
On Wednesday, Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Greg Weadick was at Parkland Manor with Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins and other local representatives to make the official announcement.
Parkland Manor will receive $11.2 million in joint provincial and federal funding ($7.7 million from the province and $5.6 million from the feds), plus another $2.1 million from the province through the surplus earnings of the Alberta Social Housing Corp.
Parkland Manor’s existing 63 units will be transformed into 37 larger units and 40 new units will be added.
Detailed design work is expected to take six to nine months, with construction tendering early next year. Construction will take about two years and be completed in the spring 2017.
“It’s a big project for our community and we’re excited it finally came to fruition after years of hard work,” said Rimoka board chair Paul McLauchlin.
A new lodge was badly needed. The existing 1970s-era facility has narrow hallways, an inadequate kitchen, outdated fire suppression and small rooms. It is also full and has a waiting list.
“This is an opportunity to modernize existing assets as well as add to assets to serve our community for the next 20 to 40 years,” McLauchlin said.
A plan is being worked on to create as little disruption as possible for residents during the construction.
McLauchlin brushed off the controversy around Anglin’s early announcement and said the foundation and residents are just happy the project is moving forward.
Anglin denied he leaked the information, defending himself in a lengthy letter in the May 6 Rimbey Review. Anglin contends he was given permission by Weadick to release the funding information.
Further, he said that neither provincial, municipal nor Rimoka representatives had any right to withhold the information.
Emily Woods, press secretary for Weadick, said he did not confirm the funding to Anglin or give permission for its release.
“With these joint announcements, there is a protocol in place in terms of making the announcements and the timing and the logistics. A lot of pieces had to be in place before that announcement could be made by the province and the government of Canada.”
The money is part of a $121-million Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement between the province and federal government.