Senior group calls for sprinkler upgrade after fatal fire
A seniors group says the province should pay for sprinkler systems in seniors buildings that don't have them, following a fatal fire at a complex in Langley, B.C. on Wednesday.
One person died and 12 people were taken to hospital, including three in critical condition, after the fire broke out on the second floor of the four-storey complex at 203 Street and 54 Avenue on Wednesday morning.
Investigators still don't know how the fire started, but fire officials have confirmed there was no sprinkler system in the 30-year-old building, which was constructed before sprinklers were a safety requirement.
Dave Sinclair, president of the B.C. Seniors Living Association says it is time the province stepped in and upgraded the buildings with sprinklers.
"One death is one too many, as far as I'm concerned," he said.
"We're talking about the most frail people in our society," said Sinclair, "So it would be unconscionable in my mind to not try and get those buildings retrofitted."
One person died and three others were sent to hospital after the fire broke out at 203 Street and 54 Avenue in Langley, B.C.(CBC)
The Elm building is owned by the province and managed by the Langley Lions Senior Citizen Housing Society, a non-profit that aims to provide affordable housing to seniors.
To read the full article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/04/04/bc-langley-fire.html
Canada and Manitoba Provide Support for New Affordable Seniors Housing in Dauphin
The Governments of Canada and Manitoba will provide $2.4 million to the Kinsman Villa Group to help develop 40 units of affordable housing for seniors at the Mountain View apartment complex.
Manitoba's Minister of Finance, Stan Struthers, on behalf of Housing and Community Development Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross and Robert Sopuck, Member of Parliament for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) made the funding announcement today in Dauphin.
"By building more affordable housing we are helping seniors stay close to their families and friends," said Struthers. "When seniors can be assured of safe, high-quality housing, they can continue to live with dignity and maintain strong roots in their communities."
"Our Government is committed to working with Manitoba to develop and implement local solutions to housing," said MP Sopuck. "This investment will continue to help residents of Dauphin access safe and affordable housing that meets their needs."
"This project addresses an urgent need for more affordable seniors housing in our area. This is being made possible by the great partnership between the governments of Canada and Manitoba, along with the City of Dauphin, the Kinsmen Villa Group and all future tenants who will call Mountain View Villa their home," said Bev. Sarkonak, Project Manager for Mountain View Villa Inc.
Mountain View Villa will be a three-storey, 41,440-square-foot complex located on a three-acre site on Whitmore Avenue East in Dauphin. The villa will provide 29 two-bedroom and 11 one-bedroom apartment homes with a private patio or balcony and in-suite laundry. The units will be designed for accessibility and will meet Power Smart standards. The Villa is a senior's life-lease project.
The funding comes as a result of the $62 million Investment in Affordable Housing 2011-2014 Agreement between the Governments of Canada and Manitoba. The Province of Manitoba will use the funds under the new agreement to build more affordable housing and upgrade existing housing to ensure low-income Manitobans can provide safe, stable homes for their families.
Opposition MPs support bill for affordable housing strategy
All of Newfoundland and Labrador's federal MPs – except Labrador MP Peter Penashue – say they support a private members' bill that calls for a national strategy for affordable housing.
The bill, introduced by an NDP MP from Quebec, calls on the federal government to work with the provinces, which are responsible for housing, to develop a national strategy.
Federal New Democrat Ryan Cleary stood up in the House of Commons recently to show his support for the bill.
"There is a housing crisis in St. John's, there's a housing crisis in Labrador, there's a housing crisis in Alberta – there's a housing crisis across Canada," he said.
"Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy, which is what this bill – Bill C-400 – is all about."
All of the province's MPs, minus Penashue, have told the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network that they support the bill.
CBC News obtained an email from Penashue's press secretary, explaining why the Conservative MP won't vote in favour of it.
"Our government believes that vulnerable Canadians do not need more bureaucracy and talk like this bill suggests, they need action. As such, our government, and Minister Penashue, will not be supporting this bill," reads the statement.
CMHC and Affordable Housing in Canada
By Gail Packwood
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is Canada’s national housing agency. The CMHC provides mortgage loan insurance, mortgaged-backed securities, housing policy and programs, as well as conducts research into housing needs and resources in Canada.
One of the key areas the CMHC is involved in is creating a strategy for delivering programs and policies that support lower income Canadians. They work to assist Canadians who cannot afford housing available in the private market (meaning market value rent or sale) through programs that are delivered by municipal, provincial and territorial governments and some nongovernmental agencies.
The programs available vary greatly based on geographical location (there are specific programs in place for northern communities for instance), so the best resource for up to date and accurate information about current affordable housing programs is the CMHC website – www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca
The work the CMHC does around affordable housing includes:
- Funding for renovations, emergency repairs and home adaptations to preserve the supply of low-cost housing, and benefit low-income Canadians;
- Consultation, support and financial tools to help communities sponsor and develop their own affordable housing projects;
- Funding to create safe, affordable housing and support those individuals whose needs are not met through the marketplace; and
- Funding to supply and renovate housing for Aboriginal Canadians both on- and off-reserve.
Agreements are currently in place between the CMHC and all Canadian provinces and territories for the Investment in Affordable Housing Framework 2011-14. Programs are delivered either by the province or through municipalities (as is the case in Ontario). The thinking is that each community will better understand their local housing needs and as such will be better positioned to support plans for low income housing in their region.
For information on the programs available for your province, see the links on the CMHC website:
The CMHC also manages the Affordable Housing Centre who work with private and not for profit developers on the creation of new affordable housing projects. The Affordable Housing Centre acts as a resource and provides tools and advice for developers on how to move forward with new affordable housing projects.
There are many profiles and videos on the website highlighting successful projects from across Canada that can be used as both resource and inspiration (and they are well worth the time to review as there is such a breadth of project that the CMHC has helped to come to fruition). Some projects were geared to specific members of society – seniors, women, First Nations People – with both new build construction and renovations/conversion projects featured.
There is funding available for all stages of project development – from the first proposals and feasibility studies onward. Most affordable housing projects require funding from a variety of sources – many levels of government, CMHC, private and corporate developers – in order to raise the funds required. The Affordable Housing Centre can work with a project developer to ensure that all funding streams are accessed and no opportunity is missed.
For information on the Affordable Housing Centre and to access information on funding sources for affordable housing initiatives:
PAL Stratford: Occupancy Certificate issued by the City
On January 7, 2013 there was a final inspection of the new PAL Lodge at 101 Brunswick Stratford. An earlier inspection at the end of December had revealed the need for some additional work which has now been completed successfully. The Occupancy Permit was received the same day after all final inspections and approvals had been made. This means that the building is now useable
The Tenant Selection Committee is completing the Application Form and is reviewing some tentative applications that have already been received.
Thanks are due to the City of Stratford for their assistance and continued support of the project which was partly funded by a joint federal-provincial programme.
Why ballet needs more black dancers
Classical ballet should reflect today's world: Dance Theatre of Harlem director
The ballet world needs to let go of its 19th century ideals and build companies that reflect the world of today, says Virginia Johnson of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
For the former dancer and now DTH artistic director, this means more black dancers in every classical ballet company.
Arthur Mitchell formed Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969 with the idea of opening doors for dancers of colour, beginning with a ballet school in Harlem. The company eventually gained international stature and showed it could perform classical dance at the highest level. But in 2004, the troupe went on hiatus amid financial difficulties.
Just last week the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper posed the question “Where are all the black ballet dancers?” and concluded there are very few in classical ballet companies.
“It’s as if Dance Theatre of Harlem had never existed,” said Johnson, who is currently rebuilding the company and will launch its first full season in nearly a decade. The new slate is set to begin in April 2013.
“The progress that Dance Theatre of Harlem made as a company, in changing people’s minds about what this art form is, has been forgotten and that’s what makes me sad,” she said in an interview with CBC’s Qcultural affairs show..
“It seems to me that, in that eight years, we haven’t had the inspiration for young dancers of colour to pursue a life in this art form."
According to Johnson, ballet shouldn't be synonymous with a line of identical, pale-skinned dancers fading into the background.
She loves classical ballet, including works such as Swan Lake andNutcracker, but says this 19th-century image of the ideal dancer needs to be updated.
“We look at ballet as this thing that was about the past. We really need to understand that if we’re going to be a real vital part of the current dialogue of our time, we have to actually bring forward what our current time looks like,” she said.
To read the full article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2012/12/05/black-dancers.html?cmp=rss
PAL Stratford Ready for Occupancy in January
by Gail Packwood
Applications are now available for the newest PAL residence in Stratford, Ontario. The five unit former bed and breakfast is located in the historic downtown of this scenic theatre town and will be ready for occupancy in January 2013.
Like all the PAL residences, many people came together to make the Stratford building a reality. Working for the past decade, PAL Stratford’s board of directors and many committed volunteers from the community raised funds, secured approvals and over-saw the renovations of the $1.2 million project.
Gordon Sherwin, a member of PAL Stratford’s Board Executive, shared some of the project’s major successes and hurdles with me and had a few pieces of advice for other PAL chapters undertaking this scale of project.
Before securing this building, over a dozen other properties were looked at. Time, patience and perseverance are all required when looking for suitable locations for an affordable housing project. But finding a location was always anticipated to take some time and effort. There were a few other elements to the project that proved to be a bit more challenging and in some cases more expensive, than originally anticipated.
Other than purchasing the building itself, a large percentage of the budget went to architectural, legal and engineering fees. The upfront costs (the pre-renovation period) were quite high and were in addition to the cost of a down payment required to secure a mortgage.
Red tape and paperwork are additional hurdles that other PAL chapters need to be prepared for when working on an affordable housing development. In Stratford, the building needed to be re-zoned (which they wisely made a condition on the offer of purchase on the property. If the re-zoning had not been approved, PAL Stratford did not intend to run a B&B!). The re-zoning required approval from city council and included a public consultation process. Fortunately the neighbours had no objections and this part went very smoothly, though took considerable time. Be aware that when looking at renovating an existing building, you will most likely need to re-zone the property and allow for the time (and the budget) for this process.
The affordable housing application (which would open up funding through the City of Stratford from the provincial and federal governments) was also time consuming and required many steps. Approvals had to be received from the city’s housing committee, the full city council and then the province. Be prepared for lots and lots of paper! Legal fees added up as they were guided through some of the various steps for this and other planning approvals.
Through vigorous fundraising, over several years a $140,000 down payment had been accumulated and so it had been believed that acquiring a mortgage would be relatively straightforward. This did not prove to be the case. Gordon’s advice is to not rely on a traditional bank for a mortgage – even the one you do business with regularly and who knows you well, may turn you down – you need to look at alternatives. PAL Stratford eventually attained a mortgage with Libro Financial Group, a locally based financial institution. Otherwise they had lots of offers of high interest rate mortgages which were just not viable options and would have handicapped the project in the future and raised the overall project costs significantly.
Otherwise most of the challenges were related to the renovations themselves. Significant renovations were required to turn the house into 4 one bedroom and 1 bachelor apartment. Additionally, the building needed to meet new construction codes which required new electrical, water, heating, added fire exits etc.
Unfortunately, the budget did not stretch to an elevator so the upper floor units will not be accessible.
For more information, see the PAL Stratford website
Page 1 of 7