Seniors’ housing takes a great leap forward

Major funding partners got together at Mount Begbie Manor on Friday to mark the construction of the manor's 16-unit expansion. From left to right are: Mayor David Raven representing both the City and MP Jim Abbott, Revelstoke Seniors' Housing Society Chairwoman Pam Doyle, Craig Crawford of BC Housing, and Columbia Basin Trust CEO and Chairman, Neil Muth and Garry Merkel, respectively. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

Representatives from the Revelstoke Seniors’ Housing Society, City, the Columbia Basin Trust and the province gathered at Mount Begbie Manor on Friday to mark the virtual completion of the new affordable housing units for seniors.

“We thought about, talked about, dreamed about it and now we are here,” said Seniors’ Housing Society Chairwoman Pam Doyle.

Mount Begbie Villas, as the new units are being called, are factory-built modular homes transported to Revelstoke and placed on prepared foundations on site. These units are grouped into two eight-plex townhome style clusters.

In addition, work has begn at Moberly Manor. There, an additional eight units are being constructed on the site of the original wing that was torn down last year. It will complete the development of the Moberly Manor seniors’ campus.

Doyle said the one-bedroom units at Mount Begbie can house either single seniors or couples who are still independent.

“I want to thank MP Abbott, the provincial government and the Columbia Basin Trust for their contributions to this important project for the City of Revelstoke,” Mayor David Raven said at the ceremony at Mount Begbie Manor. “Providing safe, affordable housing for the seniors in this community is important to Council and our residents.  I am excited to see these great projects move forward.”

For his part, CBT Chairman Garry Merkel said affordable housing is one of the major issues facing communities in the Basin today.

“One of our goals is to assist communities in dealing with affordable housing issues, and in particular to support new housing initiatives,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity for CBT to be involved, not only in creation of  24 units here in Revelstoke, but in the creation of a significant number of housing units Basin-wide, and increasing senior’s housing throughout the region is something that we are really pleased to be part of.”

Columbia Basin Trust has committed $425,000 to the overall capital costs of seven sites in the Columbia Basin region for a total of 114 units under the Senior’s Rental Housing (SRH) initiative.  Projects are being built in Cranbrook, Kimberley, Creston, Baynes Lake, Golden, Revelstoke and Valemount.

The Seniors’ Rental Housing (SRH) initiative is a result of a $365-million joint investment under an amendment to the Canada-British Columbia Affordable Housing Initiative Agreement, which includes funding through Canada’s Economic Action Plan and by the Government of British Columbia.

This initiative, initially announced by the two levels of government on April 8, 2009, will provide $123.5 million, including $104 million for seniors and $19.5 million for persons with disabilities, to develop approximately 1,300 new affordable rental housing units, which will help to stimulate local economies in smaller communities across B.C. Under terms of the agreement, the provincial and federal governments will provide matching contributions of $61.79 million.

To mark this important affordable housing initiative, The Current is pleased to present a special photo feature. Local resident Melanie Melnyk chronicled the building of Mount Begbie Villas and captured 280 images of the work in progress. We have selected some of her best images (Thank you, Melanie!) to show you how it all came together. Enjoy:

Melanie Melnyk, who lives across the street from the Mount Begbie Manor construction site chronicled the building of the eight new units in pictures. She provided The Current with 280 photos of the project in its various stages and we are pleased to provide you with a selection of her images starting with this one — the arrival of the excavator on the first day of the project. Melanie Melnyk photo
It didn't take the massive machine long to rip up the lawn. Melanie Melnyk photo
Surveyors at work on the site. Melanie Melnyk photo
A father and child watch the work in progress. Melanie Melnyk photo
Workers prepare the forms for the foundations. Melanie Melnyk photo
The cement injector prepares for its job on the site. Melanie Melnyk photo
Workers pour concrete into the foundation forms. That ball of light is likely a reflection from Melanie's flash. Melanie Melnyk photo
More concrete pouring. Melanie Melnyk photo
The signs announce the partnerships involved in the project. The Columbia Basin Trust, BC Housing, the federal government and the City Revelstoke all contributed to the success of the project. Melanie Melnyk photo
More than a few people did not know that these modular units at the Jake & Jay yard on Nichol Road were destined for Mount Begbie Manor. More than a few thought the "Affordable Housing" sign was meant as a joke. David F. Rooney photo
Steam from Downie Sawmill lends a surrealistic backdrop in this early morning shot of a crane at the project site. Melanie Melnyk photo
A crane raises one of the prefab units that will provide accommodation to still-independent seniors at the manor. Melanie Melnyk photo
The one-bedroom units can accommodate single seniors or couples. Melanie Melnyk photo
The crane at work on the site. Melanie Melnyk photo
A quiet morning view of the building site. Melanie Melnyk photo
The crane hoists part of the roofing that covers each unit. Melanie Melnyk photo
The project nears completion. Some of the concrete still has to cure, but it is substantially finished. Melanie Melnyk photo