For 86-year-old Christine Elliot, moving out of her own home and giving up her independence wasn’t easy.
Elliot is one of 41 residents of the newly built Beaverhill Pioneer Lodge in the town of Lamont. The lodge, which celebrated its official grand opening on Monday (Apr.23), replaces a 38-room facility built in the mid-1960s.
The larger, updated building, funded through federal and provincial affordable housing strategies, has space for 59 residents in 55 rooms.
Elliot moved into the original lodge after daily tasks like carrying her own groceries became too difficult. She said at first it was hard to give up living alone and being able to "do her own thing." She wanted to be back in Red Deer, her home for years before she moved north to Redwater to be near her daughter.
Then Elliot made up her mind to see things differently.
"This is where I am. This is where is good for me," she said. “I’m not only going to make it my home, I'm going to make it my life. And that made the difference."
Construction of the new Beaverhill lodge began in July 2016 with over $10 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments. The Lamont County Housing Foundation, which runs the facility, also provided funds.
Alberta Minister of Seniors and Housing Lori Sigurdson, one of many officials in attendance at Monday's grand opening, pointed to the importance of offering seniors a local, affordable housing option.
“These kinds of facilities all across Alberta make a real difference,” she said. “People want to be close to their family and friends, close to the amenities that they know about, all their supports. So making sure that there are facilities across our province is really part of our government's commitment and our $1.2 billion investment in affordable housing.”
Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville MLA Jessica Littlewood said that the new lodge will help seniors stay in their own communities.
“Wanting to be in this community as we get older is the goal with having housing like this, being able to stay close to family, as opposed to going to Edmonton, is a goal of a lot of people here I know. And so of course the lodge is aimed at helping people do just that.”
Elliot said she couldn’t get anywhere better for the price than Beaverhill Lodge. Now president of the lodge’s resident council, she said she highly recommends the facility.
Giving a tour of her bright, airy room, she said she loves the paint colours, the table and chairs and having enough space for company. She applauded the facility staff who she said never make her feel like she’s a bother.
"This place was the answer that I needed.”
The 24-hour staffed lodge provides meals, recreation programs, room cleaning, home care services and other amenities.