Over 50 seniors attended a workshop last week intended to provide a platform to discuss the need for more seniors’ housing options in the Lakes District.
During the workshop, which was held at Immaculata Church, seniors completed a survey asking them questions such as, “How long do you plan to stay in your home assuming you have no serious health issues; what is your preferred housing type; do you plan to stay in the Lakes District for the next 10 years?”
The survey, which is available online at http://office.burnslake.ca and at the village office, will help the village understand what is the current demand for seniors’ housing.
Burns Lake recently received an age-friendly communities grant in the amount of $10,500 that will allow the village to hire a consultant to complete a seniors’ housing feasibility study. The feasibility study will then be used to attract developers and non-profit organizations that would consider constructing new housing in Burns Lake.
“When that report comes out, we will have a better chance of somebody being interest in developing a project for Burns Lake,” explained Val Anderson, Burns Lake’s economic development officer.
According to Anderson, the village anticipates a seniors’ housing shortage within the next decade. Approximately 15 per cent of the Lakes District population is currently over 65. However, by 2025, this number is expected to increase to over 25 per cent.
“Seniors’ housing is going to become more of an issue as baby boomers come into the fray,” explained Anderson during the workshop. “We have to make sure that housing is available.”
A village staff report says the feasibility study will assist the municipality to prepare for seniors’ housing requirements “before it becomes a crisis.”
During the workshop, Gary Hemmerling with the Lakes District Housing Society provided information about Burns Lake’s current housing options. He explained the difference between Carroll Cottage, Heritage Manor and Tweedsmuir House.
When asked how long the waiting list for those facilities currently is, Hemmerling said there are vacancies right now.
“If you’re thinking of moving, put your name on the list, and be ready to move,” he said.
The concern about seniors’ housing is not particular to the Lakes District. The B.C. Care Providers Association released its annual report last week, calling for an immediate investment of $300 million over the next five years. The group hopes the federal government will chip in the same amount.
“Only 29 per cent of British Columbians believe that seniors’ care will be there when they need it,” CEO Daniel Fontaine told reporters at a news conference in Burnaby.
The report said the funding would go toward training, staff time, better infrastructure, and new models of care, and would mean more direct attention for seniors in residential care.
– With files from Katya Slepian