LAKEFIELD — Creating awareness about the need for affordable housing for seniors is the focus of the a fundraising walkathon being hosted by Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield on Saturday.
The group, which plans to soon build a communal Abbeyfield House for active seniors in the village, aims to raise between $3,000 and $4,000 from the walk to help pay for required site planning studies for the home. The walk could become an annual event.
There are about 800 non-profit Abbeyfield homes in Canada. The Lakefield Society was founded in 2016 by Lakefield resident Dewi Jones.
The site of the future seniors home — a four-acre property lat 93 Ermatinger St. in Lakefield — was purchased from the Heffernan family in January after the society’s request to have two acres of land near Isabel Morris Park was denied by Selwyn Township council.
Once complete, Lakefield’s Abbeyfield House Society aims to house up to 14 seniors.
In Abbeyfield houses, active seniors, usually aged 70 or older, each occupy a private room with its own bathroom. The core mandate is to provide affordable accommodation and companionship. There are shared rooms for meetings and social gatherings.
“The Lakefield home is not going to look like an institutional type of building. It’s going to be like a large home,” said Ron Black, president of the Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield.
“It’s going into a residential area. We definitely want it to fit in with the neighbourhood and we plan to have public space within home. We want our seniors to stay integrated with the community, because it’s really important that they stay connected. We’re hoping that the home will be a bit of hub for that area of Lakefield.”
Currently, a house sits on the site on the future Abbeyfield residence, but it’s not suitable for living, he said.
The society wants to sever that part of the property and build a 10,000-square-foot home on the remaining site.
The site would need to be rezoned from low-residential to mid-residential — just one of the hurdles the society must clear with the township before ground can be broken on the project, he said.
“We’re hoping that by early in the new year, we’ll be before council (Selwyn Township) with our planning report and request for zoning and severance, and then it will go through the public process after that over the next six months,” Black told The Examiner.
“So, we’re hoping that by this time next year we have our planning completed and our zoning and severance approved and then we’ll move onto site plan and building plans.”
A capital campaign is planned in the future with a goal of raising $500,000.
The group would like to have shovels in the ground by the fall of 2022. He wants to see seniors occupying the would-be home by mid- to late-2023, Black said.
The cost to live in an Abbeyfield home is about half the monthly cost of a typical retirement home, he said.
“Different government agencies are now recognizing that this is a housing model that fits the future,” Black said.
“There are a lot single seniors who are unable to live on their own or don’t want to live on their own. They seek companionship. So, this model is really an affordable way for the average senior to move into a home that has some services like prepared meals ... but (they’re able to) maintain their independence. We focus on keeping ties to the community and keeping (residents) active.”
Saturday’s in-person walkathon begins at the Lakefield Marina at 10 a.m. The rain date is Sept. 25.
Participants can walk one kilometre, five kilometres or any distance they choose.
Donations can be made online at abbeyfieldlakefield.ca/walkathon People can also do their own walk in the name of Abbeyfield.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner