Community members, Grande Spirit Foundation officials, and other members of the province gathered for a ground-breaking ceremony in Spirit River to celebrate the start of construction of a $24 million Seniors Housing Lodge.
Grande Spirit Foundation Chair Judy Kokotilo-Bekkerus says it represents a huge milestone for the project.
“In 2016, G5, which is the five municipalities in the area conducted a needs assessment from which we made an application to the province for the replacement of the senior’s lodge. At the same time, we were so aware that there was a higher level of need for care for people living in the old senior’s lodge and surrounding area. If people needed that higher level of care, they would have to go to communities like Grimshaw, Grande Prairie, and even Peace River”
“We’re excited to have a facility that will include 52 continuing care beds. We are also in the process of trying to get funding for a 26-unit apartment building right next to the lodge. That’s another item seniors asked for,” she says.
When the new facility is ready, it will also provide additional jobs.
“This means that Alberta Health Services will be able to hire more people to provide that care, with the expansion. Also, with Northwestern Polytechnic offering the Health Care Aide program at the Fairview campus, that could mean that people graduate from that program and find a job locally,” she says.
“This whole project is really a testament to the community. They brought what they saw as a need to the Grande Spirit Foundation. Several of the neighbouring communities including Rycroft, the Town of Spirit River, and the MD of Spirit River all contributed money toward the purchase of land so that this project could go ahead. They too saw the need,” she adds.
There have been some delays in the construction of the facility, as the previous government in 2018 did not push it forward with debate over whether or not it was in the budget.
“We had to go through a bunch of hoops with the new government that came in in 2019. Minister Josephine Pon ended up coming here to Spirit River and she was newly elected. I think she saw the need too and we were glad to have her here today too for the big event,” she adds.
Construction is estimated to be completed by early 2024.