Peace River Haven close to being saved

Local groups interested in deal but are waiting for the potential renovation bill

The Dawson Creek Society for Community Living may be close to acting on a plan to save the former Peace River Haven seniors facility in Pouce Coupe, according to Dawson Creek City Councillor Charlie Parslow.

A meeting was held in Pouce Coupe on Wednesday to discuss the future of the home, which closed in the summer of 2012, and whether the province's 90-day block on the sale of the Northern Health-owned facility could allow local organizations to step in.

"We're trying to look at the viability of Peace River Haven as a seniors complex, and we have been looking at the cost of operating such a facility using actual invoices and also using other institutions or places," said Parslow, who is also a board member with the DCSCL. "The meeting was about sharing that information and also explaining the need."

Rotary has also expressed interest for several years, long before Peace River Haven's closure, in reopening the facility, and Parslow said it is possible that the groups could partner on the venture.

"The Rotary clubs have done a lot of work over the years in supporting seniors, so they have an interest," said Parslow, who added that other partners have expressed interest in joining DCSCL as well.

Pouce Coupe has been without dedicated seniors housing since the two care homes in the village were closed. The Pouce Coupe Care Home was sold in 2012, later to become the Peace Energy Lodge, around the time Peace River Haven shut down.

However, just because the aging facilities were closed doesn't mean there isn't a clear need for such housing, Parslow said.

"There are a lot of seniors who are looking for affordable accommodations. We have over 300 on our waiting list at the Dawson Creek Society for Community Living," said Parslow. "Rather than just letting this former public institution be sold for private interest, we're seeing if it's possible to run the place in a way that would be attractive to seniors and if it would be affordable."

Currently, Parslow said, DCSCL has engaged an architect from Prince George who is familiar with the region and the building to assess how close the facility is to code, and the cost to bring it up to code.

"We'll have a report next week on what it would take," said Parslow. "We're seeing then next week if we feel that the cost is achievable through fundraising."

Parslow said the vision for Peace River Haven would include 60 private rooms where residents would live independently, arranging their own home care and transportation, said Parslow. There would be a common room, and meals would also be eaten communally, as the individual units would not have a full kitchen.

Although they have estimates on preliminary operating costs, Parslow said they have to factor in construction and renovation costs to determine whether Peace River Haven could offer the seniors housing the community is calling for.

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