Senior housing plan taking shape in 100 Mile

Organization signs agreement in principle to lease land

Plans are shaping up for a 33-unit affordable and market seniors’ rental housing facility near the Creekside Seniors Centre in 100 Mile House.

Donna Barnett, president of the 100 Mile Senior Housing Society, said they have signed an agreement in principle with the Creekside Seniors Centre – officially known as the Cariboo Elders Building and Recreation Society – to lease a one-acre piece of land to house the proposed facility.

Although it’s still in the planning stages, the project is slated to offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, for both able-bodied and disabled residents.

“If you talk to people everywhere the need for seniors’ housing like this is unbelievable,” Barnett said.

The proposed facility has been in the works for about two years after a B.C. company approached the 100 Mile Lions Club about building a seniors’ centre.

The society declined to identify the company, saying only that it has been involved in seniors’ facilities across the Lower Mainland.

Barnett said the company is in the midst of submitting a funding application to the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, which provides capital to partnered organizations for new affordable housing as low-interest or forgivable loans and contributions, for $150,000 to conduct a feasibility study and create a master plan for the project.

Once that is done, the company will reach out to Canadian Mortgage and Housing and BC Housing for funding to build it.

Barnett said the society hopes that shovels can hit the ground next spring.

“It’s a long tedious process,” she said. “If it’s not successful with this company, we have other avenues as a group to pursue. We’re not going away. We’re excited about this.”

Diane Collens, secretary of the society and a treasurer of the Lions, said they have received letters of support from MLA Lorne Doerkson, MP Frank Caputo, the District of 100 Mile and the Creekside Seniors Centre.

Renata Cargnelutti, president of the Creekside Seniors’ Centre, acknowledged her board was unanimous in supporting the proposal given “the dire” housing situation.

A South Cariboo Housing Needs Assessment, presented to the District of 100 Mile House in April, found there is a lack of senior-appropriate housing to accommodate the region’s aging population, which will need to downsize from single-family homes over the next decade or so.

That means a need for additional rental apartments, independent living communities or care homes in the area.

“We’re desperate for housing in this town. It’s a good area, it’s nice and quiet,” Cargnelutti said, adding it’s also within walking distance to the town’s downtown. “I still get asked all the time ‘is there any more information on this housing that’s going to happen?’”

Tamara Van Loon, a director of the 100 Mile Senior Housing Society, added the problem has existed for years. “When I was in real estate, people wanted to sell but they had nowhere to go.”

The society will hold its first Annual General Meeting June 21 and is looking for people to join the board, which consists of Barnett, Collens, Van Loon and Ron Graves as treasurer. Anyone wishing to be on the board is asked to call Barnett before the meeting at 250-855-9956.

The 100 Mile Senior Housing Society, which formed in June last year, said members will be looking at additional funding sources to help towards their goal of more attainable housing for seniors.

It will receive $3,000 in start-up funding from the District of 100 Mile House.

“We just want the community to know behind there are things happening,” Collens said. “We just want to get the word out there that there is hope.”

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