Construction continues on Bonnylodge with hopes that the long wait for Bonnyville seniors will be over in the spring.
In 2016, the provincial government invested over $13 million into Phase 3 of the Bonnylodge expansion, which was set to replace rooms built in 1958 and build new ones.
The expansion of 46 new, larger units would make a total of 120 units at the lodge and it was anticipated to be finished last year.
Fast forward two years and Lakeland Lodge and Housing president Chris Vining said the winter timeline they had now looks closer to spring.
“We’re hopeful to get that done as quick as we can,” said Vining on The Morning After.
“We’re probably not going to hit our winter timeline as was hoped for but we know that the need is there for all the seniors within the region and we just want to try to get there as quickly and as efficiently as we can,” he said.
Vining said in the meantime, the recently finished Cold Lake Lodge has been taking in Bonnyville seniors.
“Once we open that Lodge, the expansion in Bonnyville it’s going to be a real game-changer because there’s a lot of people that are waiting on appropriate housing options for seniors, and it’s going to fulfill a huge lead from the town.”
A waiting list for Bonnylodge has grown since construction began years ago.
However, one issue persists that could hold people out of the lodge once its completed.
The scoring matrix, the provincial model which determines who gets priority for rooms, uses a system that gives zero points out of 15 to seniors who earn more than $28,650 and another zero out of 15 if you don’t qualify for the Alberta Seniors Cash Benefit.
It is the most heavily-weighted factor on the form, including age considerations and health risks.
Vining said that Lakeland Lodge and Housing talked to Seniors Minister Josephine Pon about the issue when she visited last fall and would like to see a gradient to the scoring that factors in other concerns.
“It makes it very challenging because essentially, regardless of your need to be in, it moves you to the bottom or pretty much the bottom of the waiting list until everybody else gets into a room,” he said.
“I’ll give you a prime example right now, if you’re a high-income senior in Bonnyville, you’re over that threshold – because of the size of the waitlist, it will alleviate some of the issues when the new wing opens up.
“But if right now, if you were looking at the lodge to stay the size it is right now, there are people that aren’t going to get into that lodge. In Cold Lake right now, because we have some vacancies and stuff, we’re filling that. A high income senior in Cold Lake will be able to get a room because there’s availability.”
The new units at Bonnylodge will include a full in-suite washroom and modern fire-suppression and safety systems.