Happy New Year!
NEWS, INITIATIVES AND EVENTS
The province continues to deal with the risks faced by our healthcare system and the most vulnerable Albertans. We all still have a role in keeping ourselves and others safe from Covid-19. The tsunami-like 5th wave is showing early signs of peaking (perhaps plateauing) but is driving hospitalizations due to the sheer numbers of infections, despite being much less pathological.
As of January 12, there were approximately 63,000 active detected cases in Alberta, but the actual number of active cases in the province is estimated to be at least 10 times higher than the testing results indicate due to the cutbacks to the testing program. The Bow Valley region has approximately 500 detected cases, so we can assume it’s closer to 5,000. The very good news is that the Omicron variant is much less likely to cause severe illness, particularly among the vaccinated, and it is displacing the other, more deadly variants. Tragically more than 3,370 Albertans had died.
Alberta’s vaccine rollout has surpassed 8M doses, including approximately 1M boosters administered. Those who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to develop severe disease.
There were outbreaks in about 10 supportive living facilities in Alberta last month, today that number is closer to 110 (out of 150 lodges). The scale of these outbreaks continues to be much smaller than those before we had vaccines.
Planning – Budgets
Lodge operating, reserve and capital budget development continues. Alberta Seniors and Housing have provided us with our 2022 Social Housing operating budgets, which include some cost increases considering inflation, as well as an increase to our Rent Supplement Program of approximately 7%. Furthermore, the department has acknowledged an average vacancy in seniors’ lodges of approximately 20%, reflecting some of the operational impacts the pandemic is having on these programs.
Designated Supportive Living Operations Planning
Senior management continues to work on the operating model in collaboration with Alberta Health Services and other relevant professionals ahead of operations following construction of Phase 2.
PROGRAM OCCUPANCY RATES
Bow River Lodge 89%
Cascade House 75%
Bow River Homes 100%
Mount Edith House 100%
Community Housing 100%
Rent Supplement 100%
This is Home (Phase 2)
Meanwhile, construction of the designated supportive living facility continues. The picture shows the progress.
Schedule: Clark Builders continues to work with the province and Marshall Tittimore Architects on the design and construction planning of the 60 bed DSL4/D facility. Demolition of the old lodge is complete, having made way for the new building, while leaving the newer southeast wing in place for future use. That building, the southeast wing has been established as a stand-alone building now. Expect substantial completion in Q1 2022, followed by commissioning in Q2-3 2022.
Design: This facility has been designed to meet the needs of designated supportive living level 4 and dementia operations, including enhanced safety and care-provision considerations. We expect to have to add enhanced infection prevention and control safeguards as the lessons of COVID take hold.
Economics: The current capital cost is $17.4 million; the Government of Alberta has committed $16.5 million to date. BVRH has agreed to contribute the remaining 5% of the capital budget (up to a maximum of $900,000) to keep the project viable.
• In an emergency, please dial 911.
• For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information for Albertan’s information on diseases, treatments, staying well, and healthcare services dial 811.
• For 24/7 community program & service information, including affordability programming in the Bow Valley dial 211.
ABOUT BOW VALLEY REGIONAL HOUSING
Bow Valley Regional Housing (BVRH) is a Housing Management Body (HMB) serving the Government of Alberta and the Bow Valley Region. HMB operational funding sources vary. Tenants pay accommodation fees. Those fees are subject to affordability limits, which prevents them from fully covering the costs of operations. Provincial grants and municipal ratepayer requisitions subsidize seniors lodge deficits, while the province also subsidizes deficits in independent seniors and community housing.
As the HMB for the Bow Valley region, BVRH is responsible for social housing, as well as affordable supportive living accommodation for seniors throughout Kananaskis Country, the Bow Corridor, the MD of Bighorn and all of Banff National Park, an area covering about 13,500 square kilometres.
All told, we currently house, or help to house approximately 400 residents of the Bow Valley in eight permanent housing projects encompassing 36 separate buildings.