Province urged to overhaul funding of seniors lodges in face of aging population
Jason Van Rassel, Calgary Herald
Renovations to many of Alberta’s aging seniors lodges are underway, but municipalities are calling on the province to overhaul the rules that govern how the facilities are funded.
“There should be demonstrative partnership for the seniors lodge program,” said Linda Sloan, president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
AUMA members will debate a resolution at the organization’s convention in Edmonton later this month urging the provincial government to assume equal responsibility for any deficits incurred by lodges.
Prior to 1994, deficits were split 50-50 between the provinces and municipalities, but the government changed the cost-sharing arrangement to a capped grant instead.
The result, Sloan said, is increasing costs being downloaded to local governments at a time when demand for seniors housing is poised to rise as the population ages.
“We’re approaching, in the next two decades, an increasing number of people who will need affordable seniors housing,” she said.
It’s expected one in four Canadians will be over 65 years old in 20 years, compared to the current rate of one in seven.
The publicly funded lodge system is unique to Alberta and is designed to accommodate otherwise healthy and independent seniors who can no longer maintain a household.
Local management boards established by the province fund lodges, which draw their budgets from fees charged to residents, municipalities and a provincial program that provides a subsidy for each resident.
Like his urban counterpart, the president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties said there’s a need to look at how the system is governed now, before the grey wave hits.
Exciting PAL Ottawa featured in the Ottawa Citizen!
Group hopes to provide shelter when culture workers retire to no pensions and small savings
OTTAWA — Aging actors, musicians and other Ottawa artists, many of them with insufficient retirement savings, will have a sunnier future if PAL Ottawa has its way.
A dozen or so local artists and supporters have been working over the past two years to create an Ottawa chapter of PAL Canada®. The national organization was established in 1986 to help performers and related workers who are older, disabled or needy. Chapters exist in seven cities.
PAL stands for Performing Arts Lodge, affordable housing for low-income artists being one of the organization’s goals. Other objectives include building a network of volunteers known as Supporting Cast to provide companionship and assistance with transportation, shopping and the like. PAL Ottawa’s reach would include performing, visual and other artists.
So far, no Ottawa artists are “grubbing in dumpsters as far as we know,” says Jim Bradford, himself an aging actor and interim chair of the board of PAL Ottawa. However, he says needs here will become apparent over the next few years as aging performers’ gigs become fewer and they start relying on whatever savings they have accumulated.
“The key thing in our mission statement is that they can live in dignity in a caring community.”
Aging in dignity can be a challenge when you’ve earned as little as many artists do during their lives. The Cultural Human Resources Council reported in its Cultural HR Study 2010 that the average income of full-time Canadian performing artists was $17,137. That figure was based on the 2006 Census of Canada, the latest year for which such figures are available.
To read the full story:
Seniors housing: Pieces of the Puzzle
Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen
Pinning me with a no-nonsense look, 96-year-old Phyllis Cummings says that when it came time to give up her apartment seven years ago, she chose Abbeyfield House on Parkdale Avenue because “the other (residences) I looked at were too big. This is a house; you’re not a number here.”
In fact, most institutions, even the largest, do at least strive for intimacy. But you can see her point. Abbeyfield, part of an international non-profit organization, is a brick Victorian house with a front garden and veranda. Residents have their own bed-sitting rooms with an ensuite and individual temperature controls, but share meals at a large dining room table next to the busy kitchen.
Designed for up to 10 independent seniors (there’s no on-site medical service), the home is close to bustling Wellington Street. Rent including meals is $1,860 a month.
Says resident Dorothy Allen, 91, “It’s the best-kept secret in Ottawa.”
It’s also one model — albeit still a rare one — for meeting the housing needs of a rapidly aging population.
The latest census figures from Statistics Canada forecast a spike in the over-65 age group to 22.8 per cent of the population in 2031 from 14.8 per cent in 2011.
As boomers age, many are already finding maintenance-intensive suburban homes impractical. How will the housing market respond over the next two decades?
According to Avi Friedman, a professor of architecture at McGill University with a special interest in housing, “Many baby boomers will live well into their 80s, so the next 20 or 25 years in housing will be governed by them looking for suitable accommodation.”
He sees a boom in smaller apartments in densely populated urban areas to accommodate the reduced space requirements and fixed incomes of seniors.
Purpose-built apartment construction has tailed off dramatically across Canada, so an aging population could ignite a boom in either apartment construction or give new buoyancy to the current craze among small investors for purchasing and renting out condo units.
Friedman also forecasts a renovation explosion.
To read the full story: http://www.househunting.ca/ottawa/Seniors+housing+Pieces+puzzle/6820257/story.html
Communal Living: the challenges and opportunities
After years of living in single-family dwellings, it can be quite a change when transitioning to retirement residences or even into condominiums or cooperative housing.
Other than the square footage of your new home, the biggest change can be suddenly being surrounded by other people. It may be the first time you have been in such close company since your university or college dormitory days and it can take some getting used to.
Some people will love the communal and social atmosphere that many buildings have. Most have activities organized by staff, management or the board of directors – these can be a great way to meet your neighbours and have some fun. If you aren’t naturally an extravert, getting involved in a group, or even attending a social gathering, barbeque or other event is a good first step to learning about your new surroundings and the people you are sharing the building with. You likely have skills and experience that could benefit your community, as well as having the opportunity to learn new things from trying something you haven’t done before. Chances are that you will find someone or something that interests and engages you!
If you have an idea for a group, activity or outing that you would like to participate in but that isn’t being offered in your building, why not try starting it or planning it yourself? Speak to your building management or board and share your input!
Of course do not feel like you have to participate in every event and activity on offer.
Living in close quarters is all about getting along with your neighbours. This includes being aware and considerate of others when listening to the radio or watching television in your unit and not making excessive noise in the common areas (though this is likely less of an issue outside of a college setting!). Keeping those common areas clean is also important and a sign that you respect your shared environment.
If your building allows pets, be aware of the noise it makes and always pick up after it. Also, not everyone is as comfortable with animals as you may be, so be sure to keep them on a leash and by your side when outside of your unit. Why not introduce your pet to your neighbours so that they can get to know each other?
If you find that you are being regularly disturbed by a neighbour’s noise or other behavior, speak either to management or to your neighbour directly. It is better to address the situation right away rather than let the issue build up and cause further upset.
In any sort of communal living situation the key to a happy environment is as simple as “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. Keeping that in mind can go a long way to creating a friendly, cordial community.
Canada needs a rental housing plan
Marg Gordon and Wayne Wright, The Vancouver Sun
On May 15, the City of Vancouver council approved the Secured Rental Housing Policy. Part of the City’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy, this new city policy outlines a package of incentives for property developers to develop and build 100-per-cent purpose-built affordable rental housing in the municipality.
The City of Vancouver’s latest initiative to stimulate the construction of more affordable rental housing in the region provides a good demonstration of policy leadership for other major cities in Canada struggling with a nationwide affordability crisis, and in particular, with the supply and provision of affordable rental housing. Vancouver has recognized that purpose built rental housing is critical for the economic and social vitality of the city.
However, municipal initiatives to stimulate the construction of affordable rental housing in Canada reflect the need of municipalities to respond to what has been a significant shift in the housing policy burden of provincial and federal governments, to local government, over the past 30 years. A lack of engagement in urban and housing policy of senior governments has resulted in a steady decline of affordable rental to a point where a critical shortage of this type of housing has developed — both in the Metro Vancouver region and other metropolitan regions in Canada.
In the late 1970s, federal government tax incentives encouraged record amounts of purpose-built rental to be built in Canada — rental housing that provided affordable places for families and individuals to live close to work and urban centres. The economic and social benefits of these policies far outweighed the revenue costs to government.
Tax policy that stimulated new rental construction, while providing important housing needs for Canadians, also provided important stimulus to the national economy. In that regard, rental housing must also be part of a National Economic Strategy — which is something our group, the Canadian Rental Housing Coalition, advocates.
To read the full article:
Housing price hike erodes affordability
Editorial team, Canadian Real Estate Magazine
The costs of owning property increased in most major cities across Canada after two consecutive quarters of improvement.
According to the RBC Housing Trends and Affordability Report, Canada’s housing affordability deteriorated slightly as homebuyer demand pushed home prices higher in the first quarter, driving the cost of owning a home modestly upwards.
The RBC housing affordability measure captures the proportion of pre-tax household income that would be needed to service the costs of owning a specified category of home at going market values. A rise in the measure represents deterioration in affordability.
RBC's housing affordability measure for the benchmark detached bungalow was up 3.1 percentage points in Vancouver to 88.9 per cent, up 1.2 percentage points in Toronto to 53.4 per, up 0.9 percentage points in Ottawa to 41.8 per cent and up 1.2 percentage points in Montreal to 41.4 per cent. Calgary (36.7 per cent) remained unchanged, while Edmonton saw a drop of 0.4 percentage points to 32.4 per cent
"It became a little tougher on household budgets to carry the costs of owning a home at market prices at the start of this year," said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. "Strong buyer demand was a principal driver of the modest rise in homeownership costs. While the deterioration in affordability was felt to varying degrees across the country, it was mild in most cases."
Looking ahead, the banks said it expects further challenges on the affordability front across Canada once the Bank of Canada begins raising interest rates in the fourth quarter of 2012 and assuming the European economy stays on the rails.
"Exceptionally low interest rates have been the key force in keeping affordability from hitting dangerous levels in Canada in recent years," added Wright. "Affordability headwinds are likely to increase next year, as interest rates make their way towards more normal levels. We anticipate that the central bank will begin hiking rates gradually, however, which should help mitigate any widespread negative impact on the housing market. A gradual pace of increases will allow income growth to provide some offset."
To read the full article: http://www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca/index.php/news/item/1208-housing-price-hike-erode-affordability
Container and Community Gardening
Moving to a smaller space does not mean you have to give up the love of your garden. There are many ways to still express your green thumb within your apartment, on your balcony and out in the community.
A container garden is exactly what it sounds like – a small garden made up of various containers, from terracotta pots to window boxes and planters. You can start your container garden in your kitchen, living room or outside on your balcony or veranda –wherever you have space.
The amazing thing about a container garden is that they are absolutely versatile. If a plant isn’t thriving where you have placed it, it is easy to move it into or out of the sun or to a location where it fairs better. It is one of the benefits of having your garden entirely contained!
You can grow just about anything in your container garden. From flowers and herbs to some vegetables. There really is very little you can’t grow! Keep in mind that quite often plants in containers need more water than they would have if planted directly into the ground. So keep an eye on the soil and water often! It is also good to rotate your plants each year if you are using the same soil. Just like farmers rotate their crops, you can get more life from your soil by planting different things each year
Also, plastic pots when outside in direct sunlight, can deteriorate, so while they are light and easy to work with, they may not be the best choice for something that will last for more than one season.
There are some great resources online and lots of pictures to get your imagination (and your container garden!) growing!
A couple of great sites are:
Another option is to participate in a community garden. Community gardens can be found in municipal parks, schoolyards, co-operative housing buildings, retirement residences, churches, on rooftops and other locations throughout the city. Michelle Obama even started one on the South Lawn of the White House! Some of these gardens are shared, where everyone works together and the duties of planting, maintaining and harvesting are evenly distributed to everyone who volunteers at the garden. Others are divided into individual plots so you can have your own piece of the garden to work on and cultivate. Either way, community gardens are a great way to keep in touch with the earth when you no longer have a yard or lawn of your own. They also are a natural way to meet like-minded people who share your interests, meet new friends, as well as get outside and get some exercise. The gardens connect a community together and neighbours to one another.
In addition to offering gardening opportunities, many of the groups associated with these community gardens plan special events and hold workshops that the public can attend whether you garden there or not. You also do not have to be a pro gardener to participate at a community garden. There will always be someone willing and happy to show you the ropes and gardening basics. In no time you will be completely comfortable in your new green surroundings.
The city of Toronto alone boasts over 100 community gardens and city run allotments. Here are just a few of the Community Garden websites from across the country, there is sure to be one in your community:
Toronto Community Garden Network
City of Vancouver Community Gardens
City of Kingston Community Gardens
City of Hamilton Community Gardens
The Province of Alberta
The Community Gardening Network of Ottawa
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