Group mobilizes to save Courtenay retirement home

A local group is trying to prevent a low-income seniors housing facility from shutting its doors.

On Saturday, Sept. 30, the board of Abbeyfield House plans to close the doors of the 10-unit Courtenay retirement home. The board has cited difficulties with running rental accommodation for elders, but the five-person group says other Abbeyfield houses in B.C. communities have managed to solve those problems.

“We have offered the existing board to assist them, or to step in and take the role of the board,” said group member Jennifer Pass, a retired lawyer. “Basically, we’re saying don’t dump it. They had a number of specific problems. I’m not saying they were small problems, but I think they are not insurmountable.”

Monthly fees at Abbeyfield, set at $1,820/month, hadn’t been increased in several years. It was following a rent increase when problems began to arise.

Pass said another problem was Island Health not moving people into residential care.

“There’s a bunch of strategies that you can put into place,” Pass said. “And just a really strong conversation with Island Health to get people moved along into care, when they need it. Because it’s not a care home, it’s independent living…We’re trying to make everything possible for this society to continue.”

Fellow group member Pamela Willis says Abbeyfield supplies housing that is desperately needed for Valley seniors.

“We really think it is important to keep the Abbeyfield assets for the purpose for which they were developed in this community – to supply independent supportive housing for lower income seniors,” said Willis, the head of senior peer support.

Other group members are Barb Biley, Delores Broten and Clint Burnell, a retired accountant.

The group is assembling the range of skills needed to keep Abbeyfield doors open as the original donors intended. It welcomes community support.

They have started an online petition at http://chn.ge/2yz3GPA. A paper petition is also circulating.

For more information, contact Jennifer Pass via email at passj@telus.net, or by phone at 250-334-2321.

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