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Assisted living development breaks ground in Duncan

For Immediate Release
2011ENER0007-000257
March 15, 2011

Ministry of Energy and Mines
(Minister Responsible for Housing)
Vancouver Island Health Authority

Duncan – A new assisted living development for Elders and seniors in Duncan will bring 50 new affordable apartments to the community, announced Ron Cantelon, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum as community partners broke ground for the new Cowichan Elders building today.

“Assisted living provides seniors with homes where they can retain their independence and maintain their quality of life,” said Cantelon. “Today’s seniors built our province, shaped our communities and contributed to the prosperity we enjoy today. Making sure they have access to safe, comfortable, affordable housing is a government commitment made possible through strong community partnerships.”Cowichan Elders is a $15.4-million development that will bring together affordable housing with services like light housekeeping and meals – creating a place where seniors who need some assistance can still live independently. The Province will provide $14.2 million in construction financing for the project as well as annual operating subsidy of $877,321. The Vancouver Island Health Authority will provide $487,000 in annual operational funding for hospitality services. Cowichan Tribes will provide the land, valued at approximately $1.2 million.

“Through this partnership Cowichan Tribes can support Elders having a home where they can be assisted in living a full life on Cowichan lands connected to culture and community,” said Lydia Hwitsum, Chief of Cowichan Tribes.

This is the final project to break ground under the Province’s Independent Living BC (ILBC) program, an innovative housing-for-health program for seniors that has created close to 4,500 new affordable housing units across the province. ILBC offers a middle option between home care and residential care for those who need some support, but not 24-hour professional nursing care.

“As health-care providers, we recognize that today’s seniors want to live as independently as possible in their own communities for as long as possible,” said Howard Waldner, VIHA president and CEO. “It’s through strong partnerships and a shared vision with governments, First Nations and community organizations that assisted living residences – like the one we are breaking ground for today, become a reality.”

Located at 5755 Allenby Rd. in Duncan, Cowichan Elders will be a four-storey building with 46 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments. Amenities will include a reception area, a dining room, crafts room, podiatry/hair salon, TV room, lounge and a kitchen and food preparation area. The building will be constructed to LEED Silver standard, and is expected to be completed in early 2012.

M’akola Housing Society will manage and operate the assisted living development. Established in 1984, M’akola Housing is a non-profit-housing society which operates 867 units, primarily for Aboriginal people, on Vancouver Island.

“The Cowichan Elders Project is the first project of its kind which leverages common strengths and interests of a First Nation and an Aboriginal Off-Reserve Housing Society. The land has been generously provided by the Cowichan Tribes, while M’akola will provide its operating expertise in housing and health care for Elders and seniors. Together, Cowichan and M’akola will provide necessary solutions to the needs of Cowichan Elders and seniors,” said Kevin Albers, CEO of the M’akola Group of Societies. “It will be built on traditional territory, with the support of First Nations, government, the health authority, a not-for-profit society and the community. M’akola Housing Society is very proud to have been a catalyst in making this unique partnership come to fruition.”

Through Housing Matters BC, the Province is addressing a range of housing needs, from homelessness to affordable rental housing and homeownership. To find out more about affordable housing in B.C., visit: www.bchousing.org

In 2010-11, the Province will invest over $562 million to provide affordable housing and fight homelessness – more than four times as much as in 2001.

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Michelle Frilund
BC Housing
604 456-8895
604 318-4419 (cell)

Valerie Wilson
Vancouver Island Health Authority
250 739-6303