Construction to convert the Best Western Hotel into a seniors housing facility is underway and expected to be completed by October.
At the Feb. 4 regular meeting of council, H&H Total Care Services, and a representative of the property, Tom Hong presented the plans to change the use of the building to Chestermere City Council and received the appropriate development and building permits to begin construction.
“The major construction components are the conversion of the pool to a dining facility, the exercise room would be converted to the commercial kitchen, the breakfast area would be converted to the lounge area, and the meeting room would be a multifunctional use room,” said Hong.
“COVID-19 has delayed the originally anticipated schedule and timelines, but we’re full steam ahead and we don’t foresee any delays further on,” he said.
The City of Chestermere conducted a seniors housing needs assessment in 2018, which identified that the absence of seniors housing along with a rapidly growing senior population required immediate attention.
In January, the Council Task Force on Seniors presented recommendations to council to consider for supporting seniors in the community.
After the presentation, council created a Council Advisory Committee on Seniors, which gave council the ability to contribute in addressing identified seniors’ needs in the future.
“If you speak to council members or planning staff, they want a complete community. Chestermere has that, they are just missing the seniors housing component,” Hong said.
In February, Hong spoke as to why the property owner had ultimately decided to create seniors housing out of the Best Western Hotel.
“The business was open during an economic downturn. We tried to make it work, and it didn’t work, so we decided to convert it to senior housing where it was identified by the city that there was a need,” Hong said.
Adding, “We felt that this was a great opportunity to meet that need that the city had.”
After presenting to council, the Owner and CEO of H&H Total Care Services, Andre Van Ryk received a lot of positive feedback from Chestermere residents.
“We did get a fair bit of positive feedback about having housing in the community. As of recently, we’ve received a fair bit of interest from people in Chestermere and the surrounding areas in using the services here,” Van Ryk said.
“We want to be a part of the community, we want to be a vibrant part of the community, we want to draw people into the community, and we want the people who live with us to still feel like part of the community,” he said.
Moving forward through the COVID-19 pandemic, Van Ryk is committed to ensuring all residents and visitors remain safe.
“There is talk of visitations and visitation limitations, the industry is figuring it out through technology and different ways of scheduling meetings, so they are safe,” Van Ryk said.
Staffers at the seniors housing facility will be trained on how to keep residents and visitors safe, while following regulations set in place by the government of Alberta and Alberta Health.
“The seniors that are living at home, in particular, the ones who have any type of immunocompromised systems would be better off in a congregate living setting, and most importantly, they will not be isolated,” Van Ryk said.
“The biggest thing is mental health. If you have people who you live with it becomes their cohort, people are mentally better off than those who are stuck in their own home and very fearful to go out into public,” he said.
For more information, or any inquires with respect to residents and employment please Lisa.Beattie@thehamlets.ca, or call 403-309-6333.