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Pine Valley Lodge gains 70 suites

Masha Scheele

The new Pine Valley Lodge in Hinton will help meet the growing demand of seniors in the community by increasing from the current 30 suites to 100 suites by 2022.

The Evergreens Foundation presented its construction plans of the Pine Valley Lodge in Hinton to council during the standing committee meeting on Jan. 14.

Suites will be slightly bigger than they are now and will each have their own small balcony. The facility will be built around the existing lodge in order to transition the current residents to their new suites before tearing the old building down.

Pine Valley Lodge currently provides care level SL2, the lodge level care for independent seniors, and while the entire new lodge will be built with the intention of housing lodge level residents it will be built to code which allows the ability to partner with Alberta Health Services (AHS) for higher levels of care if required, explained Kristen Chambers, CAO of The Evergreens Foundation earlier in 2019.

Twenty of the rooms will be bigger self-contained SL1 care level units, which are still lodge level but with more options to maintain some independence with in-suite laundry and kitchen.

“That creates some flexibility for those that are transitioning into the lodge, that are needing just a few support services but not the full amount. And it’s also a way for the Foundation to generate revenue,” said Chambers at the meeting.

Once the old building is torn down, construction will start on the main lobby area as well as a cafe, indoor garden, pub, and activity area. 

Outside of the building there will be a wandering garden, which is  fenced off space, safe for seniors that could use the rooms that are up to code for memory care or AHS level 4 if required.

“One of the biggest things we wanted to bring in was the community aspect, a lot of the seniors won’t go out into the community and often we struggle to have family members come in,” said Chambers.

A big topic of conversation at the Evergreens Foundation was bringing in more male visitors. Instead of a standard activity room, they decided to put in a pub with a pool table and dart boards.

“It will give us the ability to host play off games, Super Bowl parties, curling, the Olympics, all of those things. Have the game on so they can come in,” she added.

Getting a liquor license will again generate revenue for the lodge and create a feeling of living in a normal community.

During the day the room can also be used as an activity room.

The idea behind the bistro cafe is to have people pop in for a quick visit, grabbing a coffee or an ice cream. “It won’t be a large scale cafe where we’re taking over business from anybody else in the valley  but just that ability to have people pop in,” said Chambers.

Chambers added that the Foundations’ lodges all have beautiful grounds but that they’re not purposeful and are costly to maintain. Seniors don’t just want to go and sit outside, so the design teams were tasked to purposefully intend some of the spaces around the facility within their budget.

The new lodge will include a putting green outside for activities or for seniors to putt around as they like, as well as a pickleball court, and a seasonal skating rink where groups of kids can spend time with seniors.

“This is a definite way to bring public in, having something for the seniors to watch, if we know its pickleball club night maybe they could come into our pub afterwards and visit with residents,” said Chambers.

Additionally, the foundation will fundraise to build an outdoor patio on the roof of the workshop and kitchen area. The roof is a flat structurally safe surface that they hope to utilize as a community space.

“We were able to do all of those things and still keep this building within the budgets that the province sees on other projects,” said Chambers.

“[The government] is looking at this project and saying, ‘Hey, you know what, maybe we’re not looking at this with the right lens and assuming that all of these things are extras and add-ons and things that taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for, when there are ways to work these things into the existing building figures that we are working with.” 

Mayor Marcel Michaels added that the province gave $8M to the Foundation after seeing the success of their projects.

Scotts builders was the winning team of architects and construction professionals and are set to break ground in the spring of 2020. 

Construction will take anywhere from 18 to 24 months, but Chambers said they will start off rapidly in order to move residents into the new area as soon as possible.

The residents of the Pine Valley Lodge will see a video of what the lodge will look like on Jan. 22. 

“We are excited to get the community involved,” said Chambers.

Currently, the project is being funded 100 per cent by municipal capital requisition.

The provincial budget didn’t impact the Foundation’s lodge program at all, meaning lodge funding remained the same. There was an increase to capital, while the social housing program was cut by 3.5 per cent.  The biggest impact from the recent provincial budget was in the rent supplement program which was cut by 27 per cent.

“The program has been closed for new admissions, pending a review. Evergreens was selected as one of the eight management bodies to assist the province in the redesign of the rent supplement program,” added Chambers.

Hinton’s senior housing wait list averages were 23 in 2011 and 30 in 2019, compared to wait list averages in Edson from 15 in 2011 to 53 in 2019. 

The Foundation’s housing in Hinton is composed of 30 units at the Pine Valley Lodge, 32 units at Lion’s Sunset Manor and 12 low-income family dwellings.