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$12.7M seniors' housing complex opens

The Yukon government unveiled the new 34-unit Alexander St. seniors' residence this week. Rick Goodfellow sat on the accessibility committee that helped to design the suites with seniors' needs in mind.

The Yukon government unveiled the new 34-unit Alexander St. seniors’ residence this week.

Rick Goodfellow sat on the accessibility committee that helped to design the suites with seniors’ needs in mind.

He showed off some of the features of one of the complex’s four barrier-free suites to reporters on Thursday.

In the kitchen, cabinets, surfaces and even the stove-top move up and down at the press of a button.

The dishwasher is in the middle of the kitchen rather than tucked into a corner, so dishes can be reached from either side.

The cooking range, which had yet to be installed, will have controls on the front rather than in the back, said Goodfellow.

A lot of injuries for people in wheelchairs come from reaching across hot elements to get to controls, he said.

In the bathroom, there is plenty of room and lots of handlebars, and you can roll right into the shower area on a wheelchair.

The accessibility committee was impressed at how quickly and completely architects delivered on its wish list of features, said Goodfellow.

Four of the units in the complex have those features, designed specifically with people in mind who are wheelchair-bound.

The rest of the units are considered fully accessible but lack some of the extras, like height-adjustable surfaces and barrier-free showers.

Contractors are putting the finishing touches on the building this week.

The Yukon Housing Corporation expects to take possession towards the end of the month, said spokesperson Doug Caldwell.

Senator Dan Lang, MP Ryan Leef, Premier Darrell Pasloski and Housing Minister Brad Cathers were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning.

“It was only a couple of years ago that we were standing here in front of the old Alexander St., and in a very short period of time, here we are with a new building, new opportunities, new hope for people in our community,” said Leef.

The building replaces an earlier senior’s complex on the same site. It had 14 units, and closed in 2011.

When the project was announced in August 2012, then-Housing Minister Scott Kent said residents would be moving in by the summer of 2014.

This week Caldwell said that residents should begin moving in towards the end of the month, and have all 34 units filled by the end of the year.

That should put a dent in the housing corporation’s waiting list, which is currently about 85 people long, he said.

“We’re not going to exhaust the list, but we’ll make a real good effort to get a lot of them housed.”

Barrier-free units will be reserved for those who need a wheelchair, he said.

Other priorities are finding homes for people who need to relocate from the communities for medical reasons, who are currently homeless or who have serious mobility issues where they currently live, he said.

“The physical abilities is one of the key ingredients we look at to ensure that the right people get into the right place,” said Caldwell.

All of the units in the new residence are single bedroom.

To qualify for one of these units, a person must be at least 60 years old and household income must not exceed $40,500.

Those rules are the same for all one-bedroom seniors units located in Whitehorse.

Rent for all social housing is set at 25 per cent of gross taxable income.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at