Drumheller residents will learn over the next few weeks exactly what they will pay for property taxes this year.
A healthy chunk of it goes towards the Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation to operate manors and lodges in and outside of the valley.
"The debt payment on Hillview Lodge and the extensions to Sunshine Lodge, we've been paying on those for a number of years," explained board chair Tom Zariski. "They go up to about $500,000 a year just on the debt repayment."
He adds they still have about $3.5 million left to pay on the original loan of $7.5 million. That said, Zariski thinks they're going to have to go deeper in debt just to keep up with demand.
"Once they get to a level of care that we can't provide in Sunshine and Hillview, the next step is to go to the hospital," he pointed out. "When the hospital gets too full, people have been actually required to leave the community (and) this is something that we have fought against, but unfortunately we don't have that level of care in Drumheller."
Compounding things is that many rooms in the Sunshine Lodge's original wings sit empty.
"These rooms are seen to be very small; they don't even have complete bathrooms, so most seniors of today are not really interested in going into those rooms," explained Zariski. "That's our quandry: do we renovate these rooms and make them better (or) do we tear down those wings and build something new?"
With an estimated 100 Albertans turning 65 each day, Zariski says the problem isn't going to go away anytime soon. He's asking people concerned about the shortage of high level seniors care in the area to contact Alberta Seniors and Housing Minister Lori Sigurdson.

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