ST. ANTHONY, NL – As the region’s aging population continues to increase, so does the need for new housing across the Northern Peninsula.
Two major initiatives are underway in the town of St. Anthony to attempt to meet the demand that has caused many seniors to leave the area.
Early in 2017 the town of St. Anthony began work to bring a complex for low-income seniors to town. Last week the town and its non-profit committee finalized plans for construction with the engineering and consulting firms – DMG Consulting Ltd.
Groundwork development of water and sewer for the two five-unit housing project is now underway and expected to be completed within the next few weeks. But with winter well on its way, mayor and St. Anthony Non-Profit Seniors Housing Complex committee member Desmond McDonald says construction of the actual buildings will not begin until spring.
“From conversations I’ve had with consultants, this should move fairly quickly,” said McDonald. “By November next year we should have people ready to move in.”
As the project was being finalized, the committee set out to assess how many seniors in the area were in need of new housing. Town manager Curtis Richards says the assessment turned up over 100 names.
With only 10 two-bedroom units in total, the committee is devising criteria to determine who will be selected for the housing.
“Clearly, there’s a huge need for it,” said McDonald. “Right up and down the Northern Peninsula you get that same story – we need more housing for seniors.”
St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) is also attempting to tackle this issue by turning the old Harriot Curtis Collegiate into a site for senior care and development.
The former high school has been shut down for over two years, and SABRI is awaiting approval and additional funding from government before it can go ahead on the project.
The collegiate, located next to a hospital, post office, pharmacy and grocery store, would be an ideal location for the region’s growing senior population.
But Sam Elliott, executive director of SABRI, says without government direction the project remains at a stand still.
“We have moved forward and are taking a serious look at putting senior apartments in the region – if we can come to an agreement with government on the Harriot,” said Elliott.
The collegiate could offer a high number of apartments, and bring some ease to St. Anthony’s John M. Gray Centre for Seniors. The centre has a lengthy wait list that has kept the call for more housing a common concern.