The Alberta government will spend $160 million over the next four years to upgrade seniors lodges in rural Alberta.
“We are committed to ensuring that rural communities are heard that they are represented, and they are reflected in the actions that the government takes,” Premier Jim Prentice told a crowd from the Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) Thursday.
The money will be used to help pay for renovations and additions to seniors’ lodges in rural areas. The provincial government will work with other organizations to determine which projects are the highest priority.
Seventy per cent of the senior lodges in the province are outside of major urban centres, according to the government.
Carolyn Kolebaba, vice president of the AAMDC, welcomed the announcement. She said that while newer facilities are fine, some of the province’s older lodges are in dire need of help.
“A lot of those lodges that were built a couple years ago, probably in the 80s, are in need of refurbishment and the sprinkler systems,” she said.
Last month, Prentice announced the government will fund $70 million to upgrade and install fire protection systems in Alberta seniors lodges. Many of the facilities, which were built before current fire codes, lack fire systems that are now considered standard.
Kolebaba said that the issue of fire safety has taken new meaning following the death of 32 people after a fire broke out in a senior lodge in L’Isle-Verte, Que.
“We are very worried about some of those facilities,” she said.
The $160M upgrades will be jointly funded by the federal and Alberta governments.