The new seniors housing complex proposed for Anderson Hill. (SCREENSHOT)

New seniors’ housing complex proposed for Port Alberni

Developers targeting more active seniors, offering 'age in place' model

A new seniors complex has been proposed for Port Alberni.

The Vancouver Resource Society (VRS) is hoping to build a seniors housing project at Anderson Hill, on the former Alberni District Secondary School site.

The planned facility will be a five-storey building with 102 units for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as a one-storey clubhouse with amenities like a fitness room, games room, lounge, dining room and commercial kitchen.

The project is aimed at independent seniors, explained VRS director of operations Martin Gardner in a presentation to Port Alberni city council on Monday, Sept. 14. Twenty to 25 percent of the units will be regular rentals, with “a la carte” services offered from the clubhouse. This model will allow seniors to age in place.

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“We’re really trying to attract a younger, more active senior,” said Gardner. “People can move in at a younger age and live there as long as possible. You have access to meal programs and recreational programs as you choose.”

The new facility will be called “Timberline at North Park” and will be located on Anderson Avenue and North Park Drive.

Ken Fraser, VRS executive director, explained to council that the organization has applied for grant funding from BC Housing and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Without this grant funding, the average price for a one-bedroom unit is estimated to be around $1,070.

“I know that’s probably expensive for the Port Alberni market,” said Fraser. “That’s our worst case scenario, but we’re cautiously optimistic that BC Housing or CMHC will help us out with some affordability here.”

The organization still needs to apply for a development permit from the city, after which construction is expected to begin in January or February of 2021, said director of development Brad Tone.

Mayor and council expressed support for the project on Monday. Councillor Debbie Haggard praised the “age in place” approach to the facility.

“I know many active seniors,” Haggard said. “They’re active and they’re younger seniors, but they don’t want the maintenance of owning their own home. They don’t want to do the maintenance in the yard anymore. They want the flexibility to travel. I think you’re going to be full up very quickly.”

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