$3.2 million seniors’ housing breaks ground in Chetwynd

"Both assisted living and low-income seniors will have access to a total of 12 units of affordable housing thanks to today's groundbreaking of Surerus Place, the first Olympic Legacy Affordable Housing site, announced Blair Lekstrom, MLA for Peace River South and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

"When we made the bid for the Olympics, we made a commitment to increase housing options – and now the province is partnering with communities to make this happen," said Lekstrom. "The whole community of Chetwynd should be proud of the hard work they put forward to ensure this development will provide stable, independent housing for seniors in the community."

Surerus Place is a result of an agreement between the province and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). The agreement proposes to reconfigure 320 temporary modular housing units from the Olympic and Paralympic Village at Whistler, and relocate and convert them into 156 permanent, affordable housing units in six communities across B.C.

In addition to Chetwynd, sites in Chilliwack, Enderby, Saanich, Sechelt and Surrey are being developed.

"This is the first groundbreaking that VANOC and the province are partnering on to create a legacy long after the Olympics have ended," said Dan Doyle, executive vice-president, venue construction, VANOC. "What began as 320 temporary shared housing units for 600 Games athletes and officials will become 156 permanent affordable housing units in Chetwynd and other communities in B.C."

The 12 modules will include eight units for low-income seniors and four assisted living units funded under Independent Living BC (ILBC), with ongoing operational funding provided by the Province and Northern Health. ILBC is an innovative housing-for-health program for seniors and people with disabilities.

"The funding of support services for this assisted living development is an excellent partnership," said Betty McCracken Morris, Northern Health's northeast chief operating officer. "It means that seniors can remain in the community they are connected to and maintain their independent lifestyle."

Surerus Place will cost approximately $3.2 million, including land, access and services provided by the District of Chetwynd valued at approximately $600,000. The development will be located on the banks of Windrem Creek and will be operated by the Chetwynd Senior Citizens Housing Society.

"Chetwynd is in great need of a development that will allow our aging population the opportunity to receive the housing and health support they need, with family and friends close by," said Evan Saugstad, District of Chetwynd mayor. "We would also like to thank long-time Chetwynd residents Lou and Sharon Surerus, who have generously donated the land to the District."

"This is a milestone for our community, and the Chetwynd Senior Citizens Housing Society is thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking event today," said Lou Surerus, society president. "My family and I are proud to bring a greater degree of dignity and independence to the people who will occupy this residence."

Increasing affordable housing, reducing homelessness and helping those who cannot help themselves is a key agenda for the Province of British Columbia. Budget 2009 increased the amount the Province invests in affordable housing and shelters to more than $469 million a year, more than four times as much as in 2001.