Valley Lodge to get facelift

By Geoff Lee

May 25, 2017 12:00 AM

SHOVELS IN THE GROUND It was groundbreaking day for the demolition and reconstruction of three wings of the Vermilion Valley Lodge last week. Left to right: Daryl Watt, reeve of the County of Vermilon River, Helen Golinowski, long time resident; Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, Albert Tovell, long time resident, Bruce MacDuff, Mayor of Vermilion, Sheri Heller, CAO Vermilion & Distric Housing Foundation. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Some seniors at Valley Lodge in Vermilion will get to be sidewalk superintendents during the reconstruction of three old wings of the 84 suite facility.
The official ground-breaking ceremony for the $14.1 million project took place on May 18 to be followed by the first phase of demolition for one 16-room wing.
The project will provide 52 rooms in the level 2 care facility, including a new kitchen, dining room, and laundry room.
Wings D and E will remain untouched and occupied over the two-year construction period.
The sod turning including Alberta Seniors & Housing Minister, Lori Sigurdson and MLA Richard Starke, with loud applause from Sheri Heller, CAO Vermilion & District Housing Foundation.
“It’s total replacement, not renovations,” said Heller.
She said it will take 10 months to rebuild the first wing.
That will be followed by phase two demolition and the rebuilding of 32 rooms in the old U-shape wings, which she called “old and sad” and date back to 1960.
The rooms are too small for today’s government standard that call for about 350 sq ft of space for a senior’s room.
The new rooms will include a countertop and sink, with space for a microwave and a fridge, and a bathroom with a walk-in shower.
Currently, residents living in small 8 by 10 ft rooms in the U-shape wing have to go down the hall for a bath.
“Nobody wants that anymore,” said Heller.
She explained wings D and E have full baths and are a little bit larger, and are not included in the ongoing construction.
She said seniors will have to put up with some construction noise, but they will have lots to watch.
“They might become sidewalk supervisors,” said Heller.
“They are excited; it’s going to be a new home for them.”
With the first wing to be demolished, just 50 residents remain on site.
To date, $13.25 million has been secured through federal and provincial grants and debentures from the Town of Vermilion and the County of Vermilion River
The government grants include a recent bump of $698,000
The additional funds cover the cost of rerouting utilities to keep the 32-room U wing operational until phase one is completed, and residents transferred.
“We also have to build foundations that go from new to old, and enlarge our kitchen,” said Heller.
She noted the dining room has to accommodate 100 people at a time.
“In our opinion, we were not funded properly, and they agreed with us,” explained Heller, who is pleased about the extra funding.
An additional $1.5 million needs to be raised to complete resident comfort —furniture, landscaping, owners costs to build, moving utilities, insurance etc.
To date, $600,000 has been raised.
“It’s going amazing,” said Heller.
The general contractor is Jen Col from the Edmonton area, who will oversee the construction of a full basement in the first three-storey wing phase.
The basement will house the Lodge’s laundry room, maintenance offices, and utilities rooms with elevator access.

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