Local group hopes to encourage and support seniors to live independently
Bloomfield Town Hall was host to an information session put on by LoveSong Senior Housing and Community Hub last Tuesday evening. The local community group has a vision for the recently vacated Pinecrest Memorial Elementary School—to provide affordable housing to seniors that would support an active, healthy and independent environment in which seniors could thrive.
The open-house style event was lead by Ken How and Joy Veervort, who provided information on what their vision is for Pinecrest school, along with a video and question and answer period. The group will put a deputation before council on Thursday, January 25, and are seeking approval for a partnership arrangement with the County to acquire Pinecrest School and transform it into a senior housing and community hub. This will be the second deputation to the County from LoveSong, the first being in January 2017, when the committee sought and received approval in principle from council to seek CMHC seed funding to assist on the development of a concept and feasibility study.
Over the past months, the team at Lovesong have been busy preparing their case. They attended a three-day Community Hubs Summit in Toronto, as well as travelling to local communities such as Northumberland, Quinte West and Lennox and Addington to attend forums and get advice on affordable housing. How and his team also spent time with developers experienced in building affordable housing and in the conversion of special purpose facilities. In this case, a primary school.
Pinecrest School in Bloomfield closed its doors at the end of the school year in 2017. It was deemed a surplus property by the government and put up for sale.
The work being done on this project is long and tedious, but it stems from a deep passion for community responsibility for the most vulnerable.
“We are our brother’s keeper. The social isolation experienced when getting older is something that needs attention, and we as a community are responsible. LoveSong will provide a place for seniors to live independently, but with support,” says Veervort.
For How, this has been a dream of his for some time now. With his past as a teacher, and having spent time on affordable housing initiatives before, How has a vision of what senior care should be like, and it’s not what he sees out there currently.
“Senior housing options in the County are terrible, in my mind. They have nothing positive to offer and spend no time in making senior living conditions more livable. We want to provide a home for seniors where they can be comfortable, live independently, and still engage in the community,” says How.
When asked about the long road ahead in bringing this project to fruition, How remains positive. He points out that this region has seen big projects approved in the past when it looked like it wouldn’t happen. How uses the examples of the soccer field in Picton, and the running track at CML Snider School. Both million- dollar projects that faced some scrutiny, but hard work and determination pushed the projects through. The running track at CML Snider School was one of the first in North America to be approved for a school in a rural area, and one of CML’s size. The LoveSong Housing Project and re-purposing an old school is a new concept to the area, but one that honours the community, and one that should be paid attention to.
How and the team at LoveSong are hoping for a positive result at Thursdays deputation. They are looking for the best possible deal in acquiring the school, but also wants the County to feel good about it too.
“I am my brother’s keeper, and right now I don’t think that we are doing a very good job at that. By drawing support from the community, we hope to get to the finish line and provide affordable housing for seniors in a way that we all can feel good about.”