By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Green Acres Foundation CEO Dawna Coslovi and Board Chair Jeff Carlson recently appeared before Lethbridge County Council as a delegation to provide an annual update during the June 1 regular council meeting.
The delegation touched on tax requisitions, recent acquisitions, and the continued advocacy for a rebuild of the Picture Butte Piyami Lodge. Green Acres Foundation currently has two portfolios. In addition to the facilities owned by the Foundation, Green Acres also acts as a management agent of government-owned seniors apartment buildings on behalf of the government. The apartments are suited to low income residents and rent is often markedly lower than the regular rental market; the Foundation’s mandate is to provide safe and accessible housing for seniors for no more than 30 per cent of a person’s income.
As of June 1, Green Acres Foundation has also acquired the title for the senior’s housing property in Barons. In the lodging portfolio, the Foundation has nine lodges with services, and this is where the municipal tax requisition comes to.
“Every taxpayer in Alberta pays toward some housing management body that offers lodging services, even people that don’t have a lodge in their municipality, because seniors are still allowed to have access to a lodge,” explained Coslovi. Requisitions are mandated through the Alberta housing Act and gives the housing management bodies authority to requisition funds from taxpayers of Alberta to keep rents low, and average rent does not equate to average cost because of the services such as meals, activities, and care.
Coun. Zeinstra asked if there were any updates on Piyami Lodge in Picture Butte.
“Piyami has been at the top of our capital projects for many years now. We keep hoping it will be at the top of the government’s priorities,” said Carlson adding “we are trying to rebuild; It was built in the 1970’s and it is well-used and it is always at capacity. It is also well-loved and is necessary for Picture Butte, but it is old.”
Carlson added that MLA Joseph Schow recently toured the facility and, “understands the challenges of trying to navigate those hallways and bathrooms especially with a walker which is what 80 per cent or more of residents use.”
Carlson and Coslovi said they are continuing advocating the Province to come to the table with partners, as it is a government-owned building, with the goal of funding a re-build.
Coslovi said, “part of that building we house AHS’s urgent care including their labs, x-rays and physicians, doctors office etc., it is really important that we keep that building alive and vibrant because that is so important for that town.”
“I am working AHS right now because our agreement with them comes to an end with them in 2024. but we are looking to renewal for that one because it is really important that we keep that one.”
In 2004, Green Acres built onto Piyami place, “so all the seniors in that geographic area they don’t ever have to leaver there because we can house them if they are independent up to residents needing memory care. We were right at the top one or two projects and then they changed governments on us. We are definitely advocating for that. We want to have ownership of that building, we have applied for ownership because the government wants out of owning buildings.”
According to Coslovi the Green Acres Board board has already earmarked funds out of reserves for the rebuild and said the Foundation has been clear in communicating with the Province.
“We will be your partner, we aren’t just going (to the Province) with our hand out.”
Jeremy Nixon, the former Minister of Seniors and Housing was voted out as MLA of the Calgary-Klein riding, so it is not yet clear when a Piyami lodge rebuild will happen.
“This program is unique in Canada and it is invaluable. I talk to other folks across Canada and they are putting family in housing that is 7-8,000 dollar monthly,” and added the requisition is a, small price to pay to provide seniors with accessible housing.