John Martin used a common exchange to describe the interest in a community care facility the Community Seniors’ Co-operative Ltd. committee has been working towards for nearly five years.
“It used to be, when I was (shopping) at the Co-Op, people would ask, ‘How are the kids?’” Martin said during his committee’s presentation at the O’Leary Town Council’s recent pre-budget meeting.
“Now they ask, ‘How’s that project going?’”
“There’s a huge degree of interest from our community in terms of this initiative around a community care facility,” Martin said to town councillors.
“It’s clear that people, as they continue their life journey, would like to continue living in the O’Leary area,” he said, in referencing a survey conducted for the committee.
There was no official request during the meeting for funding from the town, but it’s clear funding will be needed.
Project manager Jordan MacDonald said the two-storey, 40-unit community care facility the co-operative wants to build in O’Leary will likely cost about $4.9 million to complete.
He said the co-operative will be applying to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for a mortgage.
The initial plan for the building was a combination of community care units and apartments. But that changed in January to community care units only.
He said the business plan shows the project is sustainable. However, with no history in the community care business and meagre assets, it has been recommended the co-operative seek co-signers on its application and partnerships with other community care homes or property management firms.
Committee member Rick Cameron said they are encouraged about the change in direction.
“It looks very attractive now,” Cameron said.
Martin added, “I’ve never felt so encouraged as to where we’re at, as this is evolving."
MacDonald said the change in plans reduced the building’s footprint and the project estimates have been reworked.
Land for the project, conditional on a seniors complex being built there, has been offered to the project free of charge by the O’Leary Farmers Co-op and the Masons Public Hall Company.
Committee members expressed appreciation to the town for providing office space, and for a $5,000 grant which was spread over two years.
O’Leary Finance Committee chair, Darren MacKinnon said council is still exploring options on how it can further support toe co-operative going forward.
MacDonald estimated the co-operative is still about six months away from submitting its application to CMHC, and he said it could be another year before the application is fully processed.