Help for seniors needing housing

The Districts of Elkford and Sparwood are working on an affordable housing strategy that they hope will keep Elk Valley seniors in their communities.

The Districts of Elkford and Sparwood are working on an affordable housing strategy that they hope will keep Elk Valley seniors in their communities.

“It has become out of reach for a lot of people to secure housing,” said District of Sparwood Mayor David Wilks.

Currently, with the exception of Lilac Terrace in Sparwood, there is only independent living housing.

“What we don’t have is assisted living, long-term or palliative housing,” said Wilks. “For a lot of people in Sparwood or Elkford we don’t have anywhere where seniors can live and die in the same place.”

Wilks explained that currently, if a person in Elkford requires assisted living or seniors’ housing, they will have to move.

“In Sparwood, you can stay in the independent seniors’ housing until a certain time in your life, and then you have to move,” he said.

Wilks said that seniors can come to Rocky Mountain Village in Fernie, but if it’s full they would have to seek a facility in Cranbrook or even further.

“I’ve seen it personally, when a person is unable to find a spot in Fernie, and they have to seek a facility in Kelowna, or Trail or beyond, it is very hard on them,” said Wilks.

Both Elkford and Sparwood are hoping that the affordable housing strategy along with a working relationship with the province and the Interior Health Authority will help address the need for seniors’ housing in the two communities.

“If people want to live the rest of their lives in the Elk Valley then we should provide that for them,” he said.

Teck Coal is also working with the two communities on the strategy.

“We’re trying to draw people to the Elk Valley and Teck is trying to entice workers to come, and housing is a big part of that,” said Wilks.

The report said that “the findings of the study will broadly help to identify the current and emerging affordable housing needs including the housing needs of contract industrial workers; generate a greater understanding of local housing and associated issues (i.e. housing prices); and provide direction to Elkford, Sparwood and the mining industry, and interested stake holders for resolving housing related issues.”

Wilks said that they are hoping to have the study completed by the end of June.