Politicians, residents and members of the West Coast Native Health Care Society gather at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens to celebrate the construction of new seniors’ housing for the Alberni Valley. MELODY CHARLIE PHOTO

Politicians, residents and members of the West Coast Native Health Care Society gather at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens to celebrate the construction of new seniors’ housing for the Alberni Valley. MELODY CHARLIE PHOTO

Construction underway at Rainbow Gardens seniors facility

Dual projects to increase seniors’ housing in Port Alberni

Construction has begun on the expansion to Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens in Westporte, which means new affordable rental housing and long-term care beds will soon be available for Alberni Valley seniors.

Mid Island-Pacific Rim NDP MLA Scott Fraser and Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns were in town Nov. 23 to celebrate a pair of projects at the Tsawaayuus Care Facility.

“Too many seniors in Port Alberni are struggling to keep up with the rising housing costs,” said Scott Fraser, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim. “I am proud that our government is working with community partners to ensure seniors have access to safe and affordable housing in our community.”

The two projects are part of a partnership between the provincial government, Island Health, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, Westcoast Native Health Care Society, the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation and the City of Port Alberni.

The first project is a new independent living building with 20 one-bedroom units for low-income seniors, being built next to the existing Tsawaayuus Care Facility. The independent living building will incorporate scooter parking, programming space, common areas and a community kitchen for residents.

The second project is a new extension to the Tsawaayuus Care Facility, which will create an additional 13 long-term care beds, 12 of which will be subsidized by Island Health. The care facility and new independent living building will be connected by a pedestrian pathway to ensure mobility within the campus for residents and patients.

The new beds are part of the Ministry of Health’s commitment to seniors’ care in the province, which will see $240 million invested over three years to increase staffing levels in residential care homes.

“With an aging and diversifying population, seniors’ housing in Port Alberni has become a growing issue that is in need of action. By partnering on this project, the City of Port Alberni is sending a strong message that safe and affordable housing is a priority,” Port Alberni mayor Sharie Minions said in a prepared statement.

“The new long-term care beds in Port Alberni will mean more seniors can stay closer to their friends and family and remain connected to their community,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We know that maintaining connections to the people and places they love helps seniors enjoy the quality of life they deserve.”

The Tsawaayuus Care Facility is operated by the Westcoast Native Health Care Society. The care facility currently has 30 publicly subsidized beds and one privately funded complex-care bed. The new beds will enhance capacity and provide 24-hour professional care and supervision to adults in a supportive and secure environment.

Both developments are expected to be ready for occupancy by late 2019.