Seniors facilities in talks for Trochu, Wheatland County

·3 min read

Seniors in Trochu and Kneehill County, as well as Strathmore and Wheatland County area could see development of two separate senior’s care facilities.

Trochu Housing Corporation (THC), and the Wheatland & Area Hospice Society along with the Wheatland Housing Management Body (WHMB) are in the early stages of discussion to develop these facilities with their respective counties.

“We are not requesting any cash contribution, we are asking Kneehill County to be a partner with the Town of Trochu in the borrowing of up to $25 million required to construct the capital project,” said Trochu Mayor Barry Kletke in a letter to Kneehill County council dated September 24.

A presentation by the Town of Trochu and THC was made during the regular Kneehill County council meeting on Tuesday, October 13 to discuss a potential partnership.

The proposed facility would be built on 12 acres of land within the Town of Trochu with 80 total units. These units would include independent and long-term care, as well as Designated Supportive Living (DSL) 4 and 4D, which are the highest levels of supportive living requiring 24-hour care, and would also support dementia patients.

A need for the additional senior’s housing was originally identified in 2009, however, the town has reached an impasse in working to increase their debt limit.

To continue on their own, the Town of Trochu would need to have “a commitment of funding” from Alberta Health Services (AHS).

At this time they are unable to secure this commitment until they have applied for the Assisted Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI) grant, which they cannot apply for until they are able to identify how the project will be funded.

On Monday, September 21, Health Minister Tyler Shandro visited the town and toured the existing St. Mary’s Health Care Centre. Minister Shandro informed Mayor Kletke of an upcoming call for ASLI funding applications.

“Knowing a capital funding call is on the horizon, we believe time is of an essence and we once again ask Kneehill County to consider partnering with us,” the letter stated.

Current projections estimate up to $17 million of the funds would be “repaid through the operations of the newly built facility” and THC said they would welcome a representative from Kneehill County to join them if a partnership was established.

Councillor Ken King made a motion to ask the Town of Trochu to provide Kneehill County council with additional information regarding the request and for THC to bring back a business plan following the corporation’s next regular meeting in November. The motion was carried unanimously.

Residents in the Wheatland area could also see development of a new senior’s lodge and hospice facility.

A final location for the lodge has not been determined, though two parcels, owned by the Town of Strathmore, are up for consideration.

A series of five community engagement sessions, hosted by Berry Architecture & Associates, began on Thursday, October 8 to help architects better understand the unique needs of seniors in the Strathmore and Wheatland County areas, including Rockyford and Standard.

“We rely on community participation,” said Councillor Glenn Koester, chairman of the WHMB.

He noted the facility would have approximately 165 units, with a mix of suite types and sizes, including accommodations for DSL4 and DSL4D, though the exact breakdown of these units will be subject to change.

The facility would also include at least two hospice units.

On Thursday, October 8, the community engagement session discussed how the facility will “promote healthy living and sustainable communities.”

The second engagement session, on Thursday, October 15, continued the discussion and allowed input on amenities and other design features the community would like to see included, and the third on Thursday, October 22 discussed location and suite design.

“You only get to build it once,” Councillor Koester said of the project.

Two more engagement sessions are scheduled for Thursday, October 29, and Thursday, November 5.

Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail