A total of 33 seniors, occupying 29 suites, who called the Autumn Lodge in Berwyn home are now being forced to move somewhere else by September.
The North Peace Housing Foundation has announced they are closing because of safety issues and growing debt.
“Totally, totally disappointed, really disappointed. I can’t explain how they feel. They are just devastated. I am not happy with the decision,” said Ron Longtin, Mayor of the Village of Berwyn. “Our Village is small. We have a drug store, and a grocery store, and a post office and a bank, and stuff like that. It’s really going to hurt us, it really is.”
Debt is piling up both at Autumn Lodge and at the Heritage Tower in Peace River, another seniors care centre operated by the North Peace Housing Foundation.
The building in Berwyn, built in 1959, no longer meets today’s standards and they are losing some patients to higher level of care facilities.
Room sizes do not meet modern day standards either. Original single rooms are only 135 square feet while original double rooms are 225 square feet. The doubles have been converted to singles since. Today’s standards require between 350 and 450 square feet for any room.
According to Richard Walisser, Executive Director of the North Peace Housing Foundation, this provides an opportunity to move some Berwyn residents to Peace River, and could cut their losses.
“There’s an opportunity where we could move the two peoples together and fill the lodge in Peace River, and remove that deficit from our operations. And use that money to start building new facilities that do incorporate higher levels of care,” said Walisser.
He adds several reasonable options have been provided, aside from the lodge in Peace River.
“Some are planning to move to the Fairview lodge. One has indicated they want to move up to Manning, because that’s where they came from. One other resident is moving to an apartment, and others have decided they’re likely going to move in with family.”
Additionally, after provincial government funding was made available for upgrades to the sprinkler and fire safety systems, asbestos in some building material was discovered following a hazardous materials assessment.
“It’s not so much of a factor to take care of when we’re installing the sprinkler system. It’s when we go into the major renovations that are required on that facility to bring it up to standards, where the asbestos would become a real issue and the abatement of it would be significant cost,” Walisser explained.
However, Longtin does not necessarily see it that way.
“The asbestos that is in the place is very limited.”
A town hall meeting is scheduled for tonight at the Berwyn Elk’s Community Centre at 7:30 in regards to the closure of the Autumn Lodge.
(Photo courtesy of northpeacehousing.ca)