Society seeks to build assisted living complex for seniors

The government is keen on seeing a 75-unit independent living facility for seniors built in the territory, said Public Works Minister Scott Kent in the legislature yesterday.

The government is keen on seeing a 75-unit independent living facility for seniors built in the territory, said Public Works Minister Scott Kent in the legislature yesterday.

The Vimy Heritage Housing Society was formed more than a year ago with the purpose of pushing for that goal.

The society announced this week that a needs assessment has shown that more than enough Yukon seniors are interested and able to pay for such a residence to make it a viable business model.

It has asked the Yukon government for a parcel of land and for seed money to get the facility off the ground, said Ranjit Sarin, the society’s president, in an interview this week.

“Up until now we have fulfilled everything the government has asked us to do, including the business plan, the needs assessment, and looking at different facilities in different parts of B.C., and so on,” he said.

The government is working with the society to make the project a reality, said Kent.

“We have to make sure that the land provided to them will be adequate for the facility and the number of units that they want to incorporate there. Again, this is something that’s extremely important to our government. It was a platform commitment that we made in 2011, and we look forward to seeing this important piece of housing infrastructure for seniors developed within the city of Whitehorse.”

The government is considering a parcel of land at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Rogers Street in downtown Whitehorse, Kent said.

The housing society has envisioned a facility where restaurant-style meals and housekeeping services are provided to residents, but otherwise residents live independently in their units.

No medical services would be provided on site. That’s the major difference between this sort of residence and a continuing care facility, where residents typically require access to medical care around the clock.

The cost of living there is projected to be between $2,000 and $3,000 a month, including two meals a day and activities organized for residents on site, said Sarin.

The facility would be run by a not-for-profit board made of up residents elected among themselves.

Similar privately run facilities in B.C. can cost up to $6,000 a month, said Sarin.

The society’s survey found 500 Yukon seniors potentially interested in moving into the residence in the next three years.

About 100 seniors are interested in moving in and can afford to, meaning that they would spend 60 per cent or less of their income on room and board at the residence.

Of survey respondents, 144 asked to be contacted when suites become available for reservation.

Sarin is among those ready and willing to move in as soon as the residence is a reality.

“I’m 75 years old. My wife is the same age, and we’ve always done things proactively, and as we age we figure, what is the next step?” he said.

“I don’t want to move when I have to move, I want to move when I want to move. That’s the big thing in my mind.”

The cost to build the facility is projected to run between $18 and $21 million, dependent largely on if the residence is built over two, four or six storeys, said Sarin.

Once the society secures a piece of land and start-up cash, the residence will be completely self-sustaining, he said.

“There will be no further comeback to the government. It’s a one-shot deal, and we will not ask the government for any more money.”

Sarin wouldn’t say how much the society has asked for from the government.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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