Seniors survey shows solid support for Slocan housing

Slocan Valley seniors have shown solid support for affordable seniors’ housing in Slocan.

Submitted to the

Castlegar News

Slocan Valley seniors have shown solid support for affordable seniors’ housing in Slocan.

A recent survey came back in large numbers, with 411 responses from senior households, representing at least 628 seniors. It asked questions about housing and support needs and preferences of senior households in the valley.

“This is a very high response rate,” said Rita Moir, president of the Slocan Valley Seniors’ Housing Society. “The data from the survey, along with interviews of key individuals throughout the valley and region, meetings with the public and seniors’ groups, as well as village and regional data, are giving us a good grasp on what people want and need.”

“The survey returns indicate support from throughout the valley for an affordable rental housing project in Slocan,” stated need and demand study coordinator Ann Harvey. “One hundred 92 households indicated they would consider moving into the project in the future, with 42 indicating they were planning a move within the next five years.”

As expected, the highest interest among those considering the project and wanting to move within five years came from Slocan seniors (49 per cent), with 17 per cent interest from north of the bluffs, 17 per cent from the Lemon Creek to Winlaw area, and nine per cent each from the Passmore/Slocan Park and Crescent Valley/South Slocan areas, respectively.

“The number of people ready to move in solidifies when project and operating costs are nailed down, applications are invited, construction draws near and the project becomes more real and visible,” said Harvey.

While all decisions will have to be moderated by costs, the current preference is for one-bedroom, one-bedroom with loft, and two-bedroom units. Consultations with the public will continue as designs are modified according to need and cost.

Given current choices for supports and housing for seniors in the valley, only 23 per cent of respondent households thought that they would be able to remain in the valley as they aged. Yet 58 per cent of respondent households want to remain because of the lives they have built here: it’s familiar and close to friends and/or family. Seventy-four per cent have lived in the Slocan Valley for over 15 years.

Of those senior respondents indicating they were currently having difficulties or needing assistance at home, a quarter say they have no one to help and over a third of all surveyed live alone. Two thirds say they have no family members living within one hour’s drive.

Seniors indicated that walking distance to amenities, transportation, house and yard maintenance and repair, snow shovelling and interestingly, computer/Internet access, would be the top four things they would use to help them stay in the valley.

The survey is part of a need and demand study funded by the Columbia Basin Trust and Area H of the RDCK, with support from Heritage Credit Union and the Slocan Legion Branch #276. Study co-ordinator Ann Harvey and assistant co-ordinator Nora Lilligren will produce a final report in June.

In the meantime, the Slocan Valley Community Legacy Society has provided funds to hire a start-up co-ordinator to help volunteers line up support for the project, and the Village of Slocan, through its Columbia Basin Trust community initiatives and affected area funds, has voted to fund the feasibility study and business plan required for the housing project.