Minister of State for Seniors tours Fort St. John facilities

Minister Ralph Sultan says from his experience in Fort St. John, the city is cutting it close when it comes to seniors housing.

“What is perhaps a bit unusual about Fort St. John is the fact that I think in terms of senior residential care capacity, I think we are really pushing the envelope in terms of available units,” he says, “and clearly with economic growth and population growth, the town is pushing the capacity of its seniors residential units, and that has to be corrected.”

Sultan was a busy man during his visit to Fort St. John, as he chatted with City Council, visited the old seniors care home, chatted with representatives from Save Our Northern Seniors, as well as toured the new Peace Villa Residential Care Centre.

Sultan says he also recognizes issues that are unique to Fort St. John, specifically staffing in residential care centres and hospitals, including nurses and care aids.

“I think it’s a uniquely difficult situation in this part of B.C. and what I’ve talked about with Pat [Pimm] is the need to crank up local training.”

Following his visit the Peace Villa, Sultan said he was impressed with the facility, and says it’s a great model to look at when constructing facilities of this nature.

“This is perhaps a good example of the future of seniors residential care in British Columbia because it has been specially designed for populations that cannot be allowed to just wander around and go wherever they wish. So I’m impressed with it; it’s a forward looking facility and something I think the citizens here should be proud of.”

The minister added that the Seniors Facility Society, the group running the previous Fort St. John seniors care facility, is requesting some capital in order to reopen the facility to help find more housing for local seniors.

“This can be opened as early as July, to provide low cost housing and assisted living for seniors in Fort St. John. I committed to finding that capital for them so they can complete their plan. It’s immediate, it’s a wonderful facility, it’s a little bit old, but I think it would be a scandal if we did not take advantage of this wonderful facility which is sitting empty right now.”

He says those managing the facility are looking for $1 million and while he didn’t have any more details Monday, he says he’ll be urging the government to provide that money.