Alberta's Minister for Seniors and Housing came to Drumheller on Thursday, and she brought ice cream!
Lori Sigurdson paid a visit to the Sunshine Lodge as part of a tour of southeastern and east central Alberta seniors facilities.
"(It's) just an opportunity to really connect with residents," she explained. "It's really important for me, as the minister, to make sure I meet directly with seniors to hear from them about their concerns or answer their questions."
During her visit to the lodge, the minister helped hand out ice cream to the residents. She also spoke with staff and members of the Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation about their plans for the future.
"We have over 102 housing management bodies across the province, and so we work with each of the management bodies to make sure we understand what are in their business plans (and) what projects they see as a priority," noted Sigurdson. "Our government has committed $1.2 billion to increase the capacity and support existing facilities all across our province."
The Sunshine Lodge has one wing of tiny rooms without bathrooms that sits unrented, and the Seniors Foundation also wants to convert part of Hillview Lodge to Supportive Living Level 4, one step below hospital care. There are currently no such units in Drumheller.
"This facility was built in 1961 so it's probably ready for some regeneration," conceded the minister. "I think some of the challenges are just the very small room sizes, and we see that in other places, and so (we're) working with the housing management body, because it's really them who puts forward a proposal to us, the government doesn't decide."