The long-awaited move-in date for residents of Mission’s new seniors’ centre is inching closer.
With the construction of the Boswyk Seniors Activity Centre’s residential suites and recreational facility largely complete, approved residents can expect to start moving by mid-May, pending a green light from the District of Mission.
“We’ve been letting folks know already that they’ve been awarded a suite,” said Tricia Schweers, executive director for Mission Association for Seniors Housing (MASH).
“Then we’re going to start filling the suites, and we’ve already listed that out, so we do have a group of folks that don’t have to give notice.”
Around half of the seniors who have applications in are ready to move “at a moment’s notice,” and will be able to by the middle of next month, Schweers said, pending the District’s issuance of an occupancy permit. Seniors who haven’t given notice will have to wait until June, she said.
Construction of the 11,000-square-foot centre located on 7682 Grand St. began in October, 2019, and has just recently wrapped up.
The project is a partnership of BC Housing, MASH and Mission Seniors Centre Association (MSCA). In 2018, council approved $2.5 million for the activity centre portion of the project and supplied the land, while BC Housing gave MASH $7.4 million ($100,000 for each suite) to construct the residential portion, as well as construction financing of up to $11.5 million.
It will provide 74 affordable units to seniors in the community, which are granted based on three tiers of income levels.
A total of 30 per cent of the suites will be granted to middle-income households, 50 per cent for low-to-moderate-income households, and 20 per cent for low-income, or “deep-subsidy” households, which pay $375 a month.
Applications for the suites started to be submitted in November, and all spots for the subsidized suites have already been filled, Schweers said. Residents living in these suites are required to submit annual tax and banking information to keep the subsidized rates.
Any vacancy has to be filled by someone from the same income tier, and the only way someone can be bumped from their waitlist spot is if another person is fleeing abuse – a standard practice with BC Housing, according to Schweers.
“Let’s say a vacancy becomes available and it’s a deep-subsidy suite, we have to refill that again with somebody on a deep subsidy,” she said, adding a small waitlist of about five applicants has formed.
“I wouldn’t say it’s significant by any stretch.”
She said that the average vacancy rates vary widely across their MASH-operated facilities, depending on the average age, health and social components of the building’s residents.
“Cedar Valley Manor, which is assisted living, we have on average 14 move-ins and move-outs per year,” she said. “Some might think that that’s a lot … (But) at another building, we only have one move-out a year.”
The occupancy permit is expected to be issued by the District by the end of the month, according to a news release from Mission Seniors Centre Association’s (MSCA).
While there is no hard date as to when programming can start at the activity centre, more information is expected after May 7, MSCA president Doug Pearson said, adding they are working on the post-COVID transition.
“All our files and equipment at the current seniors activity centre are cleaned up, packed up and ready to move,” Pearson said. “The plan is to have a meeting with all the activity leads once we have a better idea of when the centre will be open to resume activities.”
He said they are checking to see if COVID restrictions would permit limited use of the seniors centre in the meantime.
MSCA has recently received a $25,000 grant from the federal government to help furnish the new centre, and that staff and volunteers are being given COVID health, safety and orientation training in preparation for the grand opening.
“This year has been very difficult for a lot of seniors,” Schweers said. “So we are hoping with the addition of the actual Senior Center on the bottom level, that they will … have the opportunity for more social interaction, which we know from the studies leads to better health.”