By Andru McCracken
The Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society has a brand new board of directors as the result of a mail-in ballot. The housing society has more than one hundred members, 89 of whom mailed in ballots to elect the new board. In previous years the board was often acclaimed and the membership was about 30 people, but there has been a new wave of support and interest in the society lately.
Beth Russell, one of two housing society members re-elected (along with Mary Anne-Watt) thanked the membership and the many candidates on behalf of the board.
“I would like to thank all those people who submitted their names to stand as a nominee. This gave us all the chance to have a democratic vote with a real election!”
The new board members are Laurel McKirdy, Vern Mickelson, Hugo Mulyk, Berna Paquette, Pete Pearson, Beth Russell and Mary Anne Watt.
Russell said the support is the beginning of good things.
“I believe we will get more and more support. Almost the whole community is behind this new venture we are going into,” she said.
The board’s new committee, called Valemount Cares, is aiming to build a new seniors facility adjacent to the high school and to increase the number and type of support services for seniors.
Rashmi Narayan is a contractor hired to help bring the new building into being.
“Golden Years is set up for independent living,” she said. “The new facility is intended to provide more support services. The plan is to provide meals, more homecare and personal supports that can be coordinated by the society to make it easier for the residents.”
Currently there are a vast array of services available to seniors, but with each service comes an administrative burden that can be a barrier for seniors or their families.
Narayan wants the new facility to coordinate those services and to make it easier for seniors to access them.
So far they’ve hired a development consultant based in Victoria and they are in the process of hiring an architect. In keeping with the spirit of Valemount Cares, Narayan said they will gather input from the public and potential residents about the design of the building.
Narayan said the architect will do a provisional site layout that will give everyone an estimate of building size which will give the consultant a rough estimate of building costs and operational budget.
She hopes they can make an application to BC Housing in November or December. The society is also moving on rezoning the land that’s been set aside for them.
The building will be designed in phases and it will likely start out as independent housing.
Russell said the vision of the facility is to be a welcoming place, a hub of activity and she hopes to involve high school students in making intergenerational connections.
“[This will be] not a place where people just sit in their own rooms, but a very home caring welcoming place with a community dining room where people have their meals together,” she said. “It will have the spirit of aliveness to it.”