Doors officially open for Lodge in Fort Macleod
It was a happy and probably with a sense of relief the grand opening of Pioneer Seniors Lodge in Fort Macleod took place Sept. 13.
Dr. Maryanne Sandberg, the Chair of the Willow Creek Foundation, welcomed all in attendance and then explained the funding for the Pioneer Lodge project was an investment under the affordable housing agreement between the federal government, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and Alberta with an 80/20 split with Willow Creek Foundation funding 20% of the funding.
Sandberg then explained a bit about the Pioneer Lodge; it is a whopping 40,400 square feet in comparison to the old lodge, which was 19,800 square feet. Pioneer Lodge contains 30 studio suites that are approximately 350 square ft. each and 10 one-bedroom units that are approximately 550 square ft. each and include barrier-free washrooms. 11 of the one-bedroom units also have patios.
Pioneer Lodge also features a laundry room, library, family dining area, a spacious dining hall, a hair salon, sitting rooms, a recreation room, and a lot of space for residents to move around freely.
“Another very important part of this lodge is our connection to the sense of community,” Sandberg said. “By that, I mean we have two independent manors that are on this land and they always remain connected to the Pioneer Lodge.”
Following Sandberg’s remarks, Graham Sucha, MLA for Calgary-Shawnessy spoke about remembering seeing his grandmother in seniors’ care and how her facility was not only dark, but not as vibrant and bright as Pioneer Lodge is.
“Seeing how bright and colorful it is in here is just remarkable,” Sucha said. “This town has such a great family feel and that’s something our government is working on preserving. That’s why it’s so exciting for me to be at the new Pioneer Lodge; to see communities be able to age and grow together as a family and as a community. This is one of the many ways that seniors’ supports are a priority to our government.”
Sucha explained Alberta now has its first Affordable Housing strategy which involves a historical investment of $1.2 billion committed towards affordable housing throughout the province.
Sucha firmly believes everyone should feel safe and be able to have access to an affordable home.
Sucha was followed by Dany Skelling from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Skelling expressed his excitement about being able to share in this day.
“Everyone should have access to safe, affordable housing,” Skelling said. “With financial support from CMHC and the Province of Alberta, Pioneer Lodge provides 40 new spacious and fully-accessible units to seniors in the community , allowing them to remain independent and close to family and friends. Fellowship with loved ones is crucial to improved health outcomes for seniors and CMHC is proud to be part of that.”
Following Skelling’s remarks, John Barlow, MP for Foothills, spoke about how seniors are important to him because he has the most seniors per capita of any of the 338 ridings in Canada.
“Seniors throughout our communities are mentors, teachers, volunteers, and role models who have contributed generously,” Barlow said. “Every day, our seniors make significant contributions to our communities by giving time, dedication, and their hearts to the people and the causes that are closest to them. Providing our seniors with proper care is something that is so important. Part of helping to ensure our seniors receive excellent care includes providing more opportunities for affordable housing within the community so seniors can stay close to friends, family, and social networks.”
Helen Kehoe, Mayor of Granum, then spoke about how Granum is too small for a facility like Pioneer Lodge, so she is grateful for the new facility in Fort Macleod. Following Kehoe’s remarks, Fort Macleod mayor, Brent Feyter, spoke.
“I think this is a testament that our governments do pull through for us and we want to thank and appreciate our government for doing that,” Feyter said. “Development and change always can cause some pain and discomfort for a lot of different people. I think, though, after all the dust has cleared, we are left with an amazing building that will be used for years to come. I so appreciate the opportunity that our seniors can stay in our community.”
George Berry, CAO of Berry Architecture and Associates, then spoke about how his firm was involved in the unique design of Pioneer Lodge. Berry said the original lodge was slated to be torn down prior construction of the new lodge, but the Willow Creek Foundation worked tirelessly to ensure that every resident had a safe place to reside in before any demolition took place.
“The project would have never happened with all the hard work and dedication of everybody involved,” Berry said. “From the board members that came to the Province, to the federal government for the findings of the support, but most importantly, the challenges that came through this the seniors experience right from the very start. This is the building that every one of you deserves.”
Following the comments, Sandberg, Sucha, and Barlow unveiled the plaque that commemorated the official opening of the Pioneer Lodge.
The board of the Willow Creek Foundation then assisted two of the Pioneer Lodge’s residents, Glenna Moorey and Raymond Chester, in the ribbon cutting ceremony that officially opened Pioneer Lodge.
With assistance from members of the Willow Creek Foundation board and MP John Barlow (far right), Pioneer Lodge residents Glenna Moorey center (turquoise top) and Raymond Chester cut the ribbon to officially open Pioneer Lodge.
Above: From left to right, Graham Sucha, Dr. Maryanne Sandberg, and Dany Skelling, Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, unveil the plaque for Pioneer Lodge. Right: Helen Kehoe, Mayor of Granum, speaks at the grand opening of the Pioneer Lodge.
BRENT FEYTER, Mayor of Fort Macleod