A village for the ‘silver tsunami’
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.