New building planned for Autumn Glen residents
The half-century-old Autumn Glen Lodge will be getting demolished to make way for a new two-storey building as part of an overall three-phase $2.2-million renovation project with an expected end date of 2017.
Last January, The Parkland Foundation Housing for Seniors launched a $99,000 six-month feasibility study to determine the best future housing option for the town’s low-income elderly residents.
The completed study was presented to the six supporting municipalities in July — the Town of Innisfail, Red Deer County, Town of Penhold, Village of Elnora, Town of Bowden and the Village of Delburne.
They directed the consultants, from Edmonton’s Western Health Planning, to move forward with the development of a business plan, which should be completed at the end of September.
The construction is expected to more than double the building, currently 2,500 square metres, to 5,264 square metres. Phase 1 will see a new two-storey building in the southwest corner of the site that will house 60 designated supportive living (DSL) lodge units, with 30 units per floor. The residents will move into the building when it is completed while administration will temporarily remain in the old 1961 building.
The 1984 wing will be demolished during Phase 2 and the core will be completed allowing for administration to move in. The third phase will see the demolition of portions of the 1961 and 1973 building with renovations and redevelopment of the remaining portion of the 1961 building to provide 10 life-lease type units and complete the parking area and drop-off zones.
There is the option for a fourth phase for an addition of 30 DSL 3, 4 and higher levels of care units in the northwest corner of the site if needed.
The $2.2-million cost for the first three phases will fall to the six member municipalities as well as Parkland Foundation said board chair of the foundation, Tracey Walker. She said the main purpose of the $43,000 business plan is to find potential partners and grants.
“It’s important to the board to maintain affordability,” said Walker. “There are plenty of options for people who can pay at private facilities $2,000 to $3,000 a month. For the average senior, not a lot can pay that for 10 to 15 years. That’s where our partners come in. They need to share our vision.”
Walker doesn’t know the exact cost per unit yet but said it should become evident with the completion of the business plan.
“It’s awesome, just to get to this point,” she added.
The lodge’s origins date back to 1959 when the provincial government brought in the Homes for the Aged Act.
The first 32 rooms at the facility were built in 1960. A 10-room addition was built in 1974. The lodge was expanded again in 1984 with a 20-room addition, with each unit having a full bath.
However, while the building’s infrastructure meets building and safety codes, the size of the residents’ rooms as well as the amenities throughout the aging structure have become increasingly inadequate for staff and less desirable for older citizens both in town and throughout the county.
Most quarters for residents range in size from 120 square feet to 167 square feet, with a few at 196 square feet and one at 270 square feet. An Alberta Infrastructure report stated the ideal size for resident rooms is 300 square feet.
As well, the halls and corridors of the building cannot accommodate wheelchairs. Most disturbing for residents is that more than 40 out of the total 62 rooms do not have a bath. Residents without must use shower facilities or share baths with others.
“I don’t think anyone can argue that we need this. It’s time. They deserve an adequate facility,” said Walker.