Flood damaged seniors home to be replaced

High River: Medicine Tree Manor to be demolished, rebuilt

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:28 am

Lauren Ingalls, Foothills Foundation CAO, stands outside the Medicine Tree Manor in High River. The facility was damaged in last year's flood and will be demolished and replaced with a new building.
Lauren Ingalls, Foothills Foundation CAO, stands outside the Medicine Tree Manor in High River. The facility was damaged in last year's flood and will be demolished and replaced with a new building.
Don Patterson/OWW

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Repairs planned for the Medicine Tree Manor in High River won’t just fix damage caused by last year’s flood.

The Provincial government is making a significant contribution to a plan to upgrade and replace aging parts of the facility as well as repair damage caused by floodwaters.

The 52-unit Medicine Tree Manor, which was built in 1960, will be demolished. In its place a new, 40-unit facility will be constructed to modern standards.

The Province is providing $4.9 million for the $9.9 million project and the remainder will come from insurance and the Foothills Foundation. Work will begin this fall and be completed in 2016.

Al Brander, foundation board chairman, said the project will improve the life of residents at the facility.

“While our seniors home is forever altered from this tragedy, we have come along with a wonderful opportunity to allow our seniors to age with grace, and with dignity and independence,” he said.

Rooms in the new building will be double the size of those in the existing building. It will also have wider hallways and modern facilities to meet current needs.

The manor is on the same site as the Westwinds Lodge, which has 32 units, and the Parkside facility, with 28 units. These buildings will also be repaired as part of the project.

Upgrades will also ensure potential damage from future disasters will be kept to a minimum, including building a single mechanical room rather than the three separate mechanical rooms currently in place.

Seniors from all units will continue to be housed in other seniors’ centres or at temporary housing during construction.

The Foothills Foundation’s other facilities in High River have either reopened since the flood or will open in the coming months.

The 20-unit Soderberg House reopened in August after the flood and the foundation’s administration office opened last month.

The 30-unit Spitzee House is projected to open this summer.

The Medicine Tree Manor has deep roots in the High River community.

The manor had 34 suites when it first opened in 1960 and has expanded over the years.

Just a couple months before last June’s flood, the foundation made the replacement and upgrade of its oldest suites a priority.

After the flood, the board considered still doing the upgrades as part of eventual repair work.

“The foundation and its residents have been forever changed by the flood of 2013,” said Brander.

“The foundation, our seniors and residents of High River and the foothills region are privileged to benefit from these 40 new replacement suites.”

He said the foundation would not have been able to undertake the overall project without the assistance from the Provincial government.

Once the work is complete, the entire facility will be able to withstand future disasters Mother Nature may send its way, said Brander.

Foundation CAO Lauren Ingalls is looking forward to the completion of the project and seeing the facility’s residents move back in.

“This is just an amazing commitment to the foothills and to our seniors and I promise you a great party in 2016,” she said.

Greg Weadick, Alberta’s municipal affairs minister, said the government moved quickly on this project to get plans and funding in place.

As bad as the flood was, Weadick said it gave the Province and the Foothills Foundation the opportunity to upgrade facilities at the manor.

“What you’re going to see is, you’re going to see brand new, larger units, fully modernized,” he said.


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