Penticton opens doors to affordable housing for seniors

Kiwanis Housing Society and various levels of government hold ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

  • Sep. 2, 2011 4:00 p.m.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday for Kiwanis Van Horne

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday for Kiwanis Van Horne

James Ludvigson is so happy about his new digs at the Kiwanis Van Horne, he offers to square dance with strangers to illustrate how much space his storage room has.

“I’m so honoured to be here,” Ludvigson said, after speaking at the official opening on the importance of providing for Canada’s aging population and those, like himself, in wheelchairs who struggle with accommodations. “My suite is fully accessible. It’s just home.”

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton said he recalled when Ludvigson called on him to ensure wheelchair accessible accommodations would be included in the development.

“I think that’s really important that all governments listen to their constituents and work with their constituents,” he said. “These units are going to make a big difference in Penticton.”

Ashton, Ludvigson, a host of Kiwanis Club members and politicians were on hand Friday for the ribbon cutting to Penticton Kiwanis Housing Society’s long-anticipated seniors rental facility at 150 Van Horne St.

The $9.08-million project finished construction in March, and people began moving in to the four-storey wood frame building shortly after. It consists of a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, including those tailored in price and design for seniors and people with disabilities.

The seniors rental project was unique because not only did senior levels of government chip in $3.3 million to the project, but Penticton Kiwanis Housing Society offered to operate and manage a building to be constructed on their land worth $1.1 million for which they’d also provide an additional $1 million in cash equity.

Bill Barisoff, MLA for Penticton, said his provincial colleagues have been tracking progress on the project since its inception, given how much community stakeholders contributed to its success.

“It’s unbelievable to see what we’re seeing here today,” he said, thanking Kiwanis members who “put blood, sweat and tears into making this project happen.”

Ian Dickinson, president of the Penticton Kiwanis Housing Society, said it was amazing to stand at the site that, only 16 months ago, had been a “skeletal frame” of housing to come.

“What a change it has been,” he said. “This is a really proud moment for me and our club, and I think it’s a very proud moment for our tenants, too.”

Kiwanis past-president Phyllis Kennedy thanked members for sticking with the project.

“We have 58 units that are all happy and smiling, and that’s all thanks to you,” she said.

After the ribbon was cut, housing society finance officer Ernst Schneider said the new facility tacked 58 more units to the two existing buildings Kiwanis runs on Brunswick Avenue, bringing the total to 128.

“We owned the land, and that was crucial, otherwise you have to find property and look for financing,” Schneider said, adding the Van Horne building eased the growing waiting list with the society. “We’re absolutely thrilled with the project. This has gone extremely well.”