Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New option for rural retirement in Dugald

$16-M housing co-op to let boomers enjoy golden years outside of city

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Project spokeswoman Lesley Thomson and Springfield Reeve Jim McCarthy at the future site of Dugald Estates.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Project spokeswoman Lesley Thomson and Springfield Reeve Jim McCarthy at the future site of Dugald Estates. Photo Store

A new co-operative development in Dugald will let seniors do what they haven't been able to in the past -- live out their golden years away from the big city.

The $16-million project, called Dugald Estates, is targeted at baby boomers who don't want to give up their rural lifestyles and social circles by moving into Winnipeg and Brandon when they get older.

It's the brainchild of the Springfield Seniors Non-Profit Housing Co-op, which was created in early 2012 in response to the drastic shortfall of seniors housing in smaller communities throughout the province.

Its chairwoman, Lesley Thomson, said this co-operative concept is different from other co-op housing models, which are generally geared toward low-income residents.

'This (development) will preserve our community. People can age in place... '

-- RM of Springfield Reeve Jim McCarthy

"Our group wanted a level of housing similar to what they were accustomed to in home ownership," she said.

Many of the people who have bought into the co-op have most of their money tied up in their homes. This model, however, allows them to sell their houses, free up some money and continue to live in the way they have been accustomed.

The building, scheduled to go into the ground in February, will have 55 suites, ranging in size from 870-square-foot, one-bedroom units to 1,465-square-foot, two-bedroom units. The monthly rents will range from $1,120 to $1,890.

The marketing of Dugald Estates began in July and it's already two-thirds sold out, Thomson said.

The price of a co-op membership is $90,000, which will be refunded when people move out. They won't earn any interest in the interim because the co-op is a non-profit organization.

The co-op has received an offer of financing from the Oakbank Credit Union for $11 million and the remaining $5 million of the construction costs will be covered by the co-op memberships.

The community was quick to jump on board. The Dugald United Church donated $150,000 to kick-start things and the RM of Springfield, which borders Winnipeg to the east, donated the 1.6-hectare building site for a loonie.

Reeve Jim McCarthy said it was a no-brainer for his council to contribute the land.

"There's a huge disparity between the need (for seniors housing) and what we have. This (development) will preserve our community. People can age in place, which is something we don't have much of right now," he said.

"Our population (in the RM) is about 15,000 and about 10 per cent of them are over 65. Of that group, 30 per cent are over 75 years old."

He said the housing situation in the area is sparse and the 50 units currently available are sprinkled around communities such as Anola, Oakbank and Cooks Creek.

McCarthy was quick to shoot down any notion that the RM's intentions were influenced by a desire keep residents in Dugald to maintain the tax base.

The co-op's vision doesn't end at this one project, however. Thomson said assuming the first building is successful, her group would like to construct two more -- an assisted-living facility and a supportive-living facility -- so as people age and need more services, they can just move to the next building.

"A lot of the time, one spouse is well while the second needs another level of care. Wouldn't it be nice if they could just walk across the courtyard to visit them?" she said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 31, 2013 A7

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