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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A delegation from Save our Northern Seniors presented to the Peace River Regional District board about the need for more seniors housing in the Peace Region, including an expansion of Peace Villa.

In their annual update to the PRRD board, SONS President Jean Leahy and Director Jim Collins said that wait lists for the various seniors housing facilities in Fort St. John increased in October of this year, with 261 residents on a wait list for housing. Of those, ten are waiting for beds at Peace Villa, 141 are on the North Peace Seniors Housing wait list, and 105 are waiting for spots at Heritage Manor.

Leahy added that an additional 177 are relying on home support or nursing care at home, and 163 are clients of Better at Home. Leahy stressed that the number of residents receiving home care nursing is particularly worrying since that step is usually the last straw before those under care need to go to the hospital. She added, however, that there could be some overlap in the numbers that were provided by SONS.

Leahy and Collins once again stressed the need for a third building to be built at Peace Villa, which would add an additional 60 beds of dedicated long-term housing. Fort St. John Director Lori Ackerman did mention that the North Peace Seniors Housing Society is working to build a fifth unit that would add to their housing capacity, though the time frame for that facility being finished is not known.

Area ‘B’ Director Karen Goodings also asked if the need for seniors housing could also be expressed to those in the private sector, mentioning 12-bed facility in Prespatou that was built without any government funding. Ackerman added that she has spoken to developers that have done such private enterprises, who said one barrier is not having updated data about the number of seniors living in a given area.

A motion by Ackerman to have staff engage in a conversation with the Community Development Institute about getting updated demographic statistics passed unanimously.

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