Community Initiatives funding approved for Valemount Cares

We’re thrilled that the CBT Adjudication Committee prioritized our project as #1 and the online public ranked us just behind the Bike Park, putting us first overall.

At their April 1 meeting, the committee recommended that all the projects be funded. More details here. And on April 13 meeting, council stamped their approval as well. We’re expecting a response from BC Housing to our application to develop 16 residential units in mid May.

Thanks to everyone who took time to complete the online survey for CBT Community Initiatives. Congrats to all the projects, and we’re thrilled that switching to online voting only this year did not impact the project because of the seniors who might have not been able to vote.

With CBT Funding, we will

  • Complete site assessments and have the assistance of consultants, architects and engineers to make grant applications to CMHC and other funders to develop the common areas.
  • Complete a technical and financial Feasibility Study to develop a Net Zero Ready building seeking matching funds from Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund.

We received a lot of positive feedback and support from the public during the CBT Community Initiatives public input process. However, some comments indicate that the project details may not be clear to everyone, so we wanted to respond to your questions and concerns.

  1. Why should we pay more outside consultants for studies that may be shelved?

This funding is not solely going to outside consultants but paying a local project coordinator, project architects and the development consultant who have already been hired to develop detailed building and funding plans for the Valemount Cares facility.

The CBT funding will allow additional work for a net zero ready building. 

  • The study will explore design improvements, their costs and the operational savings to implement different features to achieve a Net Zero Ready building. This will be done with the help of architects, engineers, geotechnical studies, energy modellers, etc.
  • The study is necessary to apply for federal capital grants for energy efficient buildings from two funders, and will also subsidize the site investigations required by BC Housing for the housing development.
  • The gain in capital funding through new grants would be significant ($1.5 to $3 million). It would reduce the mortgage financing required outside of grants and make the project more viable to public funders.
  • A Net Zero ready building will reduce operating costs for the building.

The study will enhance the work already underway. Included in the scope of the study is an implementation plan for funding and infrastructure improvements for the building to operate off the grid in 10 years.

2. Will this be glorified condos? Will the units be affordable?

BC Housing and CMHC would require that the rents be affordable – ranging from just below market rent to deeply subsidized rents of $375. The operating agreement with BC Housing that will provide subsidies to maintain operations requires that rent is kept affordable and geared to income. Without the operating subsidies, the rent needed for a residential unit would be at least twice the maximum affordable rent.

3. I still think the old school lot on 5th Avenue is a better location.

The fifth Avenue lot is owned privately. If the owner was inclined to sell and we were to magically find the money to buy the land, it would add to the cost of the project and make the project less viable to public funders.

The Ash Street lot is owned by the Village who has committed to the seniors’ development. They’re willing to fund a new lift station from additional grants to service this parcel. This is huge and we’re grateful to have the Village support behind the project. Plans for this parcel include other affordable housing developments. Being next to the high school also makes it more stimulating for seniors who want to engage with youth and neighbours, and to attend events at the Community Theatre.

4. Supportive living is a vague term. Why is it not assisted living? We need a facility with medical services.

This is a residential project with services. The goal is to provide affordable housing and services for seniors to continue living in the community with more supports – meals, housekeeping, laundry, personal care and activities. This is why we have planned an additional 2700 sq ft of common areas which fall outside BC Housing’s ‘residential units only’ scope.

Supportive Living is providing the above services. Home care will still be available to residents through the Health Clinic.

To be called Assisted Living (versus Supportive Living), BC Ministry of Health has to determine there is a need for subsidized units in Valemount and that Northern Health should partner (with funding and/or staffing) to do that. We have initiated conversations with Northern Health and they are in the midst of determining seniors’ needs for the whole region. So we’re staying optimistic.

By thinking ahead and having a building ready to provide services, we are in a better position to engage with Northern Health to provide Assisted Living.

  1. Supportive Living – Independent units with Services (above) in partnership with existing service providers.
  2. Assisted Living – The same services provided in partnership with Northern Health to subsidize fees for those who need it.
  3. Long Term Care – This would be a new building with onsite medical services. This requires a new conversation with Ministry of Health, after we have assisted living approved by them.

BC Ministry of Health definitions for Supportive Living and Assisted Living

Our end goal is long term care. We have designed the site plan for that and are taking the necessary steps to get there. Long term care is provided or funded by Ministry of Health and we have chosen this strategy to piggyback on funding available for affordable housing so we can first provide residential services to seniors who can live somewhat independently with more supports. We will develop long term care in the next phase after demonstrating that the society is capable of delivering services to seniors.

The pandemic has shown that seniors in large facilities have been most affected in terms of health, safety and isolation. We’re hoping this will make a good case for Valemount Cares to get to our end goal sooner.

We’ve developed our plans in consultation with the community and service providers and open to more inputs.

If you have suggestions and the energy to advance the project to get “care” quickly, we would love to have you on our Care Committee. If you have more questions, feel free to email Rashmi at [email protected] or call 250 566 1302.