From left, County of Vermilion River Reeve Dale Swyripa, Town of Vermilion Mayor Caroline McAuley, Alberta Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon, Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright Constituency MLA Garth Rowswell, and Living Well Capital Campaign member Scott Webb.
Photo Angela Mouly
The Vermilion & District Housing Foundation celebrated the Grand Opening Gala of the Vermilion Valley Lodge’s Modernization Project on February 5. Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing, travelled from Calgary, and other dignitaries included MLA Garth Rowswell, County of Vermilion River Reeve Dale Swyripa, and Town of Vermilion Mayor Caroline McAuley. Guests had the opportunity to tour another wing that had recently been renovated as well as a new puzzle and craft room, and a fireside room. They also enjoyed an open bar, appetizers, and live music by the RGB Trio. CAO, Paul Kim, welcomed everyone; and Minister of Seniors and Housing, Josephine Pon, noted that the project involved 124 units, including 52 new ones, a new kitchen, laundry room, and more parking space. “Our government is proud to support this. To enable seniors to continue living safely and independently is important, and we are pleased to have invested in this facility. I would like to thank the community who raised $1.5 million through the Living Well Capital Campaign; this is quite an accomplishment! My best wishes to those who call this Vermilion Valley Lodge Home,” said Minister Pon. MLA, Garth Rowswell, noted the $14.1 million project was achieved with a $10.5 million contribution from the provincial and federal governments, the living well committee, and a $2.5 million loan from the Town of Vermilion and County of Vermilion River. Mayor, Caroline McAuley noted that a deck will be added on in the summer, and she went on to thank the province for their generous donation, the committee for their fundraising efforts, and acknowledged current and past housing foundation board members for their vision. “This community has a legacy of caring for their seniors, having built one of the first residences in the province,” said Mayor McAuley. “On behalf of the County of Vermilion River and Council, it gives me great pleasure to be a part of this project. Our seniors have played such a significant role in our lives and in our community; this is for them.,” said County Reeve, Dale Swyripa. Scott Webb, member of the Living Well Capital Campaign said, “With thanks to some extremely committed committee leaders, we were able to raise over $1,586,363. Most importantly, we are very fortunate to have generous donors including 285 local businesses, residents, and community members.” Minister Pon went on to say that there are currently over 600,000 seniors in Alberta, and that as of 2035 there will be over one million. “How will we meet their needs?” She asked. Originally from Hong Kong, she has lived in Edmonton and Calgary, and has recently been touring rural Alberta communities. “This is an eye opener. Smaller towns are so warm and close; in a short time this one raised $1.5 million. This is an absolutely amazing experience, and hopefully all of the seniors can stay in their hometown,” said Minister Pon. “This is truly a celebration of our community and how they value our seniors,” said Recreation Director Brittany Lysons. Resident, Rowena Hays, turned 92 on February 8, and having admitted that there are a lot of lonely seniors, said that she decided to move to the Vermilion Valley Lodge eight months ago because she had a daughter in Vermilion. “Life is what you make it. I love it here; I didn’t know a soul, but I am getting to!” said Hays.