Members of Wells Gray Community Forest Society stand with those of the Evergreen Acres Seniors Housing Society during a cheque presentation for the Evergreen Acres expansion project. Though there’s no confirmed start date for the project, it’s hoped construction can begin by spring or early summer. Photo by Jaime Polmateer

Updated: Wells Gray Community Forest Society makes donation to Evergreen Acres expansion

Project will add 16 one bedroom units and four two-bedroom units when complete

Wells Gray Community Forest Society (WGCFS) recently made a donation to the Evergreen Acres expansion project that when complete will see the facility able to house a minimum of 24 more seniors.

The planned addition will have 16 one bedroom units and four two-bedroom units, all of which will be single story structures with ground floor entry.

“This is a group that’s done tremendous work throughout our valley in enhancing the social, cultural and economic aspects of our area,” said Ken Kjenstad, former Clearwater councillor, who attended the presentation where $1,050,000 was donated.

Kjenstad said the amount was originally for $300,000, but after the discovery of a finacial gap, another $750,000 was kicked in, bringing funding up to par for the project.

Other funding sources for the project include roughly $80,000 from the District of Clearwater (DOC) of in-kind donations for development fees and a $2 million grant from the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which was received last November.

Though there’s no solid start date yet, Evergreen Acres Seniors Housing Society (EASHS) previously said the group is hoping to get shovels in the ground by spring or early summer.

Linda Selbee, who was also on hand for the donation representing EASHS, said folks at the facility are more than grateful for last week’s donation.

“Evergreen Acres is over the moon with this grant; the WGCFS has been supporting us since 2015 with various grants throughout the facility and this is just awesome,” she said.

“We’re currently trying to get to the permit stage and we couldn’t have done it without you.”

Documents previously provided by the DOC showed a need for more seniors housing facilities in the North Thompson, which came from a study done from McBride to Mclure, looking at different aspects of seniors living within the area.

Evergreen Acres has three buildings presently that make up its facility, with the main building having been built in 1976 and holding 16 rental units. The second building, constructed in 1983, holds six units and the newest addition, built in 2010, has 10 rental spaces, adding up to a total of 32 units for seniors to rent.

Former DOC mayor John Harwood was also on hand during the presentation, and applauded the determination of all those involved in pushing for the new expansion.

“The word that came to my mind immediately when I thought about coming here tonight was tenacity—without tenacity, without the will to keep going, you’re not going to get anywhere in our society today,” said Harwood.

“Don’t expect it to be handed to you; so all the people that were represented here tonight deserve a big shout out for the ability to keep going on a project when you’re told no.”

Harwood was mayor when the DOC agreed to put forth the $80,000 of in-kind donations for development fees, and he also applauded his former administration for believing in the EASHS expansion and agreeing to contribute what it could.

“The community wasn’t able to come to the table with a million dollar cheque, but we can come with water and sewer and tax incentive grants and items like that, so I’m really proud of the council I worked with,” he said.

“They were willing to come to the table and say, ‘This is a project we believe in and as a community this is a project we want to do.’”

When the project is finished priority will be given to potential senior occupants between a loose boundary of Blue River and Little Fort, followed by people beyond that boundary who might have relatives close by, so they can be closer to family.

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