After a trio of community engagement sessions, the Grande Spirit Foundation is one step closer to seeing the new Spirit River Seniors Lodge become a reality. General Manager Steve Madden says it was uplifting to hear the suggestions from members of the community, as they continue to try to build the long-term future of seniors residences for the region.
“To capture the vision of what the community would like to see, to [provide that] back to consultants and they can put that flavour, and those looks back into the building itself while they’re doing those drawings,” he says. “They want to see outdoor gardens, shared common areas, a safe environment.”
The G5 group, made up of Saddle Hills County, Birch Hills County, the Municipal District of Spirit River, Town of Spirit River, and Village of Hythe, first approached the Grande Spirit Foundation about a seniors facility for Spirit River in 2018. Madden says, at the time, a needs assessment done by Saddle Hills County, the Village of Rycroft, the Town of Spirit River, Birch Hills County, and the Municipal District of Spirit River found that more lodge spaces and supportive living spaces were needed.
What’s planned for is a 92 unit facility, which would contain 40 lodge suites and 52 designated supportive living suites. The provincial and federal governments approved up to $24 million in funding to help with development in 2019. The G5 group will be responsible for covering any costs that come in above the $24 million mark.
While it is far too early to determine when shovels may hit the ground, Madden suggests they are getting down to a crucial timeframe in the project.
“As we step forward, the consultants will gather up that material and then start applying it to paper, turn it into a budget, and going back to the province to say roughly this is where we are,” he says. “Maybe in the late fall or early winter this year, but there has been no real consideration to that yet… we really need those drawings before we get any further.”
The future of Pleasantview Lodge in Spirit River is also up for debate. Madden says they have no concrete plans in place, but the destiny of the building was also a talking point in the recent community conversation.
“It was part of the public consultations as well, and the community had a resounding let’s keep it and find another purpose for it,” he says. “There’s nothing really been decided quite yet, we wanted to hear from the community first, and then go back to the powers that be to find some decisions of what we can do with it,” he adds.
Information and engagement on the project can be found online.