Canada’s Economic Action Plan Creates Affordable Housing for Rural Seniors
In 2008, Minister Patsy Henry looked out at her congregation and noticed that some familiar faces were missing. Because of a lack of adequate, affordable seniors’ housing, many seniors in the eastern Ontario township of Central Frontenac had been forced to leave the community when they could no longer manage to live on their own at home.
Volunteers from the church community decided to get involved, and a public meeting was held to discuss the need for seniors’ housing. Three years later, thanks to federal and provincial funding, Sharbot Lake Seniors Residence opened with five affordable units.
“Seniors living alone in rural areas can face challenges,” said Jane Drew, property manager at Sharbot Lake Seniors Residence. “Their properties are often larger, which can mean more maintenance and a longer driveway to keep cleared in winter. There are also difficulties posed by the isolation and the need for longer travel to buy necessities.”
The new residence is located on a forested piece of land that was made available in Sharbot Lake by North Frontenac Non-Profit Housing Corporation. Developed by Central Frontenac Housing Corporation, Sharbot Lake Seniors Residence was the first seniors’ residence in Ontario to receive GreenHouse™ Certification from EnerQuality (a partnership between the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance).
Federal support for the project came in a number of forms. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation provided Seed Funding to help Central Frontenac Housing Corporation prepare the development plan and seek municipal approvals. The construction phase of the project received $600,000 in combined federal and provincial funding through Canada’s Economic Action Plan, as well as $40,000 from the governments of Canada and Ontario through the Canada – Ontario Affordable Housing Program Agreement.
The one-bedroom units can accommodate either a single person or a couple, so as many as 10 people may be living at Sharbot Lake Seniors Residence at any one time. To help those with mobility issues, all of the units include ground-floor entry and wider doorways. Other senior-friendly features include grab bars in the bathrooms and hands-free faucets. The housing project also includes a common room where residents can socialize with one another or entertain family and friends.
For residents like Ray Fletcher, finding affordable housing within the community was a big relief.
“Due to surgeries, I have some trouble getting around,” said Fletcher. “The placement of light switches and the doorways (in this unit) add greatly to the convenience. My sister in Montréal worries about me much less now, and I truly enjoy the forest flora blossoming in spring.”