A vil­lage for the ‘sil­ver tsunami’

The Glengarry News - - News - BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON News Staff

Bill Kerr wants to help North Glen­garry pre­pare for the com­ing “Sil­ver Tsunami” – a metaphor for the large num­ber of ag­ing baby boomers who are go­ing to be in dire need of af­ford­able se­nior hous­ing.

Mr. Kerr is part of IHA Canada, an Ot­tawa-based group of com­pa­nies that has come to­gether to solve this Sil­ver Tsunami. He ap­peared be­fore North Glen­garry coun­cil last month to talk about build­ing a seniors vil­lage near Hôpi­tal Glen­garry Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal.

“Af­ford­able se­nior hous­ing is one of the big­gest prob­lems that so­ci­ety faces,” Mr. Kerr said, claim­ing that a lo­cal re­tire­ment home costs about $3,000 per month and that a sim­i­lar home in Ot­tawa costs about $4,200 per month.

The IHA solution is to build a seniors vil­lage that, through a num­ber of cost-cut­ting ini­tia­tives, will al­low seniors to live com­fort­ably and af­ford­ably. In fact, IHA is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that 15 per cent of the units it builds would be de­signed and priced as af­ford­able seniors hous­ing. Mr. Kerr es­ti­mates th­ese units could cost as lit­tle as $800 per month.

Mr. Kerr says there are other mea­sures IHA would take to keep costs to a min­i­mum and that it would pri­vately pay for the con­struc­tion with no ad­di­tional fund­ing nec­es­sary from the hos­pi­tal or any level of gov­ern­ment.

He ex­pects IHA can save 25 per cent on con­struc­tion costs through an “in­no­va­tive build­ing ap­proach” and that more money can be saved by en­sur­ing that seniors aren’t stuck pay­ing for ad­di­tional bells and whis­tles.

“Over the past two years, we spoke with thou­sands of seniors and we learned that they only want to pay for what they need,” he says.

That means that if a par­tic­u­lar se­nior doesn’t wish to be pro­vided with three meals a day, he or she won’t have to pay for it.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Mr. Kerr says that a high-tech seniors’ vil­lage would be de­signed as a cost-sav­ing mea­sure from the get-go.

An ex­am­ple: A se­nior liv­ing in Glen­garry who has to travel to Ot­tawa twice a month to see a spe­cial­ist.

“With the tech­nol­ogy we’d be able to put in place, the se­nior would be able to do that via tele- con­fer­enc­ing,” says Mr. Kerr. “We’d also have RNs and nurse nav­i­ga­tors on hand who would be able to as­sist the doc­tor in re­mote lo­ca­tions.”

Mr. Kerr claims that this new tech­nol­ogy is the wave of the fu­ture and that the ma­jor­ity of fa­cil­i­ties in Eastern On­tario don’t even have the most ba­sic up-to­date tech­nol­ogy.

“Im­ple­ment­ing that tech­nol­ogy would be a big cost-sav­ing mea­sure,” he says.

Mr. Kerr adds that the vil­lage wouldn’t be de­signed like a tra­di­tional sub­di­vi­sion with all sorts of roads and drive­ways and park­ing spa­ces. In­stead, there would be plenty of side­walks and walk­ways. All of it would sur­round a cen­tral hub, which could in­clude com­mer­cial es­tab- lish­ments like a small gro­cery store, travel agency, or bar­ber shop. It would also be home to health care ser­vices such as a phar­macy or physi­cian’s of­fice.

North Glen­garry coun­cil was en­thu­si­as­tic. Mayor Chris McDonell called it a great idea while Maxville Ward Coun­cil­lor Carma Wil­liams de­scribed it as an in­no­va­tive ap­proach.

“It sup­ports the hos­pi­tal, which is nec­es­sary, and it’s tech­no­log­i­cally in­no­va­tive,” she said.

Mr. Kerr says his com­pany is al­ready in the plan­ning and de­sign process and ex­pects to hold a num­ber of com­mu­nity in­for­ma­tion meet­ings in the fall. He hopes to be­gin ser­vic­ing the proj- ect site in the spring and be­gin con­struc­tion in mid-sum­mer. He ex­pects it would take about two to three years to build the vil­lage, whose pre­lim­i­nary de­signs show about 280 units of vary­ing sizes.

As to how much the project will cost, Mr. Kerr hopes to have those fig­ures avail­able in about a month.

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