June 17th Bow River Lodge Update

Keeping you informed about the This is Home project and about the transition to rent geared to income.

Province pledges $6 million for Phase Two

Spring brought good news to BVRH with the announcement of $6 million in funding from the Alberta Government for Phase Two of the This is Home Project. With matching funds from BVRH, Phase Two will include construction of a 60-unit facility offering Level Three and Four care for seniors facing physical frailty, memory loss, or other issues requiring dedicated nursing support. 

“This is a transformative announcement for Bow Valley seniors and their families,” says Joanna McCallum, Chair of Bow Valley Regional Housing. “Right now, many seniors requiring this level of care are forced to leave the Bow Valley. This facility will enable them to remain here, close to their friends, families and local supports -- this announcement benefits everyone."

"BVRH is grateful to the Government of Alberta for helping us provide housing options that are supportive, sustainable, and secure for our seniors," McCallum adds. "And we are confident that the people of the Bow Valley will step forward to help us raise the matching funds we need for Phase Two. This is about keeping families together, here in the communities we all love."

BVRH will begin construction later this spring on Phase One of the This Is Home Project, an expansion of the Bow River Seniors’ Lodge in Canmore. Phase One includes a 63-unit wing to be built behind the existing Lodge, replacing 43 aging rooms and adding an additional 20 rooms. The new wing is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

Planning for Phase Two is already underway. The 60-unit designated supportive living facility will be constructed on the grounds of the Bow River Lodge. It will be purpose-built for Level Three and Four Care, and will provide secure accommodation for seniors facing memory loss. Construction of Phase Two of the This Is Home Project will begin after completion of the Phase One wing.

Rent geared to income transition starts July, 2015

In our last Update, we described the coming change to “rent geared to income”.  The change will affect all residents.  Here’s a reminder of how that transition will happen:

 In July, 2015, Bow River Lodge residents will see their bills split into “rent” and “hospitality”.  Rent covers the normal expenses of a living space including rent, utilities and maintenance.  Hospitality covers meals and table service, housekeeping, linen changes, 24-hour staffing and similar expenses.

Also in July, the Lodge will start the changeover to “Rent Geared to Income” (RGI), which means that residents will pay up to 30% of their income for rent, once the new system is fully in place.  The hospitality portion of residents’ costs is not affected by this change.

For existing residents, the transition to RGI will be gradual.  Each resident has received an individual information sheet, showing in detail how their rent costs will change over time.  New residents will have the new rates as soon as they move in.

Talking about rent geared to income (RGI)

Over the past months, Bow Valley Regional Housing has been working hard to communicate with everyone who needs information about RGI. 

Ian Wilson, CAO of BVRH, sat down with residents to review the changes, and provided each resident with a personalized information sheet to show how his or her rent will change over time.  Residents’ families are receiving email updates.  Staff, care providers, local and provincial authorities are also receiving updates. In April and May, Ian Wilson, along with BVRH chair Joanna McCallum, provided presentations at all five local municipal councils, to make sure that mayors and councils have detailed information on the transition.

Rent geared to income, frequently asked questions

What is “rent geared to income” (RGI)?

“Rent geared to income” means that residents will contribute up to 30% of their income for the rent portion of their costs.  There will be a minimum charge and a maximum charge.  

Why is this happening?

For the sake of fairness and sustainability, and to reduce our dependence on the taxpayer. 

Does this mean that higher-income residents will be paying to support lower-income residents?

No.  No one will pay more than it costs to accommodate them in the program. Furthermore, 95% of residents will still receive taxpayer-subsidized rates.

Where does the extra money go?

This money will be entirely devoted to providing shelter and services to our residents, while reducing our dependence on the taxpayer.  Through this and other 

changes, we’ll have the flexibility to respond to the community’s future needs, such as the possible need for additional levels of care.

Who will be affected?

Every existing resident of Bow River Seniors’ Lodge will see some change in the rent portion of their costs. 

When will this happen?

Beginning in July, 2015.  For existing residents, the transition will be gradual.  New residents will come in at RGI.

Is this fair?  Is this affordable?

RGI is being increasingly adopted by lodges across Alberta because it is fair and equitable.  30% is the recognized national standard for affordable housing.  All other subsidized housing in the Bow Valley is at 30% RGI, including the seniors’ housing beside the Lodge.  Even after full implementation, it will be cheaper to live at the Lodge with full services than to live on your own.

Still have questions? 

We’d like to help!  Talk to Ian Wilson or Greg Hutchings in their offices or at 403-678-5922