Recent History – 2004 and beyond
By Lee Kaiser — November 28, 2005
A new assisted living facility for seniors in the South Peace likely will be built on the site of the existing Rotary Manor in Dawson Creek.
“B.C. Housing will make the decision by the end of December, based on architectural and engineering reports and whether there’s adequate space,” said the Northeast chief operating officer for Northern Health Larry Tokarchuk. “I’m optimistic it will work at Rotary Manor. It’s a logical site assuming there’s enough space,” Tokarchuk said. “You’ve got a number of features there. For example a Dawson Creek Transit bus comes in so from a service standpoint it’s a good place.”
Northern Health owns the site, he added, which already has Rotary Manor and Southview Apartments, which provides some of its units for a mix of seniors and those physically and mentally challenged. According to a media release last week from Northern Health, the new assisted living facility will provide 26 units. Northern Health had been investigating whether to convert Pouce Coupe’s Peace River Haven intermediate care facility into assisted living units. Tokarchuk said renovating the Haven was not economical due to “structural difficulties.”
It would cost an estimated $125,000 per unit to convert the Haven, and “marginally more” to build a new facility, according to Craig Crawford, vice-president of development for B.C. Housing in Vancouver.
He was unable to release full cost details for a new building as it “might influence the construction bidding process.”
The Gatekeepers group has been lobbying to keep the Haven facility open. Spokesman Paul DeCosta said that while he was happy for whichever community received the new assisted living facility, it didn’t resolve the ongoing problem of finding spots for those at the Haven needing the more intensive intermediate care.
“Everything is on hold and people that could have been admitted haven’t been,” DeCosta said. “Under the old system of intermediate care it was easier to qualify than under assisted living. What happens to those people in the interim because it’s going to take three to four years to build the facility.”
A few years ago the province did away with the intermediate care category in favour of amalgamating the upper end of it with extended care and adding the assisted living category. Assisted living includes specialized housing and 24-hour response to help seniors.
Patrick Michiel, the executive director of Dawson Creek Society for Assisted Living, said the decision to build a new facility is a sound one. Last year, the group had put forward a proposal to convert and operate the Haven as an assisted living facility along with B.C. Housing. Michiel said they plan to remain involved wherever the facility is located.
“We’re involved in assisted living already and we wanted to use our expertise to expand the program. Pending approval of the society, we will be in the hunt to be involved in any subsequent projects,” Michiel said. The society presently operates the Southview assisted living units.
As far as any timeline for closing the Haven, Tokarchuk said there isn’t one but it would definitely be after replacement units have been found. “It depends on a lot of factors. We have to get those assisted living units built and there’s going to be other construction projects in place ultimately so it depends on how many capital dollars we have as to how quick we can do it.”