A 102-unit affordable seniors’ housing project in Yellowknife will receive an extra $5 million from the federal government to help with an unforeseen increase in costs.
Yellowknife seniors’ care group Avens will use the money to cover costs caused by disrupted supply chains and increased prices for materials during the pandemic, president and chief executive Daryl Dolynny said.
Dolynny said the funding, announced on Wednesday, would ensure the Avens Pavilion project opens as planned in the fall of 2023.
The federal government had already given the project $33.7 million in 2020.
Avens considers the new building necessary to provide housing for the NWT’s growing number of older residents who require support.
Neighbours appealed the development over concerns about pedestrian safety, traffic flow, noise, and draining issues, but that appeal was dismissed and construction began last year. Work will resume in March or April 2022.
Julie Green, the minister responsible for seniors and the Yellowknife Centre MLA, said on Wednesday that ageing in place with dignity in the NWT is not as simple as it could be.
“Many seniors are challenged to make it a reality because of a lack of safe, affordable, and accessible housing in their home community,” Green said.
“Avens has been offering affordable housing to seniors for decades at Aven Court, as well as nursing care at Aven Manor and the dementia centre. There has been a significant waiting list for the independent living units that dates back years.”
The age of the average NWT resident has been gradually increasing, with the proportion of seniors in every NWT community growing over the last 20 years.
More older people are remaining in the territory and consequently need access to services and supportive housing.
Dolynny, quoting a November 2019 study conducted by Avens, said seniors in the NWT “are at a greater risk of needing daily support in their lives and at an early age compared to the rest of Canada.”
He said the biggest housing gap is in subsidized, affordable, independent supportive living units.
Avens Pavilion will tackle some of those concerns and “provide relief,” he added.