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Monday , 26 October 2020
Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing, at Bonnylodge on Wednesday.

Bonnylodge construction done

Eleven years since the project first hit paper, the expansion of Bonnylodge is complete.

With just over $35 million of provincial money invested since day one, the third and final phase of Bonnylodge’s improvements are finished, which sees the building connect to an apartment-like complex nearby while adding roughly 55 new, more spacious rooms.

Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon visited the Cold Lake Lodge on Tuesday and stopped in Bonnyville on Wednesday to recognize the investment made in the Lakeland’s seniors.

The Cold Lake Lodge expansion saw the partial demolition of the building to add 15 more units added and finished in the spring of 2019.

“We know that seniors want to stay in their community, close to family and friends. This is exciting news for Cold Lake, Bonnyville and the seniors who call these communities home,” said Pon in the press release.

Town councillor and vice-chair of Lakeland Lodge and Housing, Ray Prevost, presents the speakers at Bonnylodge on Wednesday.

With 121 rooms now and the ability to accommodate 130, the common areas have been expanded, with furniture and gameboards soon to arrive.

Moving in however could be a difficult process for Bonnyville residents on the lodge’s waitlist or currently reside in Villa Ouimet or Dussault Residence.

Lakeland Lodge and Housing vice-chair Ray Prevost said the current health protocols leave the exact process of getting seniors settled into the lodge in a bit of doubt.

“We can’t move a whole bunch in at one time because we still have to social distance in the dining room. And when they move in, I don’t know about the rules–will they have to quarantine 14 days? That puts extra stress on the staff because they have to deliver meals in the morning, noon and night, and clean the room,” said Prevost.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a gongshow, but we’re gonna get there.”

Municipal officials see the large gathering space built during the third phase of Bonnylodge construction

It’s been a long road to get to this point.

With multiple long delays over the years due to funding uncertainty, a construction company going bankrupt, and nine different provincial ministers over the course of construction, it’s a relief to many to be finished.

“On behalf of all of our seniors in the region, current residents of the lodge, future residents and our town council, I am elated to see that we are seeing the light at the end of this very long tunnel,” said mayor Gene Sobolewski.

“This journey involved several preceding provincial governments’ foresight and initiative to achieve the facility we now have. I am excited that the latest phase will be opening for residents in the next few months.”

Prevost agrees.

“The bankruptcy here was really a downer. We’re building that second phase and the company went bankrupt and that delayed a whole year. That boy, that killed the enthusiasm for a while. We knew it was going to get done, but not on the timely basis that we thought it was gonna get completed.

“But I feel pretty good about it today, though,” he said.

Since the waitlist is 76 people deep, it’s unlikely that everyone will be able to move in this October. Plus, seniors with yearly income over $28,650 are still treated as lower priority for housing due to the province’s scoring matrix for eligibility into publicly funded lodges.

“A big thanks from our foundation and seniors to the many people involved in overseeing these projects to a successful ending,” Lakeland Lodge and Housing chair Chris Vining.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.