By Nikki Jamieson
In late February, the Alberta government and Canadian government announced that they were investing over $14 million in joint funding to help upgrade affordable housing in Alberta, with the majority of the funding going towards repairs and upgrades in senior homes.
Miscommunication, however, had the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CHHC) press release on the announcement reporting that the Taber and District Housing Foundation was receiving $135,269. As the amount was not the correct amount, it had caused some confusion when The Taber Times inquired about it.
“None of us can figure out where the $135,000 came from, because it didn’t correlate with what we’ve been sent last fall, in terms of what we were going to get for this year,” said Tim Janzen, CAO for Taber Housing. “There was an error and a miscommunication with the Taber and District Housing Foundation. We did confirm with the Foundation that the total investment for them is actually $325,269 for repairs that are needed, not $135,269. We are working to correct the information on the CMHC website,” said Timothy Chu, press secretary for the Alberta minister of seniors and housing. “Our government is proud to make significant investments into seniors’ lodges and community housing to make life better for Albertans. Our investments of $1.2 billion into seniors and affordable housing over five years is roughly four times more than what the previous government invested.”
What Taber Housing will be receiving is a total of $325,296 over a two-year period for various capital projects on properties that they manage. The first project on the books has been given $83,000 for a series of items at Clearview Lodge. The remaining amount, about $240,000, will go towards work on projects in the manors under the Taber Housing banner, which they operate but are owned by the province. The total funding is being provided jointly by both the provincial and federal governments.
“We’re very grateful to receive these funds to address the needed repair in our buildings,” said Janzen. “We’re thrilled to get this money, so we can deal with some maintenance that has been needed for a little while.”
This money will not be part of a stable allowance for operations, but are project specific. For example, they will get ‘X’ amount of dollars to fix a roof, and once that project is completed, they will get another amount for the next project and so forth.
“Depending on the scale of the project, when they hit certain milestones, we kind of give them that money,” said Chu. “I don’t know in the case of Taber, how that is going to roll out and look and the schedule, but they can expect $325,000 to fix the things that were listed as per the agreement between the ministry and the housing management.”
Every year, the provincial government asks that organizations such as housing management organizations, hospitals and schools across the province send them a list of projects that need to be done, worth over $5,000. The amount that these projects are worth are what the province uses to determine what the infrastructure deficit is in the province.
The funding will first go towards a make up air unit — which will provide fresh air to about half of the facility — and add an air continuing unit to the facility. Once they have completed those projects, they would like to see if they can complete two additional projects — shingling/new roofing on two of the wings at Clearview and a new hot water boiler — with what’s left over from the $83,000. Some of the projects have been on their books for at least five years, and costs have changed since they first requested funds. For instance, the original quote for the make-up air unit when they first requested funding for it was about $25,000, but Janzen says that now, it may cost as high as $65,000.
“We’ll go ahead with the make up air unit, but some of the other things, if we’re lucky, they’ll be under budget, and we’ll still slide it in,” said Janzen. “Our main focus is to get that make up air unit done.
“Items are often on the list for several years. I will say that has been a priority of the current government, is to look at these sort of infrastructure, roofing, heating items, to ensure that they are working properly. So we’re thankful that they’re willing to give us these dollars.”
Taber Housing still has about $1 million worth of projects that they need done on all of their properties, and “slowly but surely”, Janzen hopes that enough funding will come to complete those projects.
The funding from the province was allocated in the 2016 provincial budget, with the recipient organizations being informed through letter in roughly November 2016 and the announcement coming out this past February. The funding is for individual projects, and is not operational funding.