Construction begins on new Queens long-term care facility

four people in hard hats stand in front of a large outdoor sign announcing the future site of the new Queens long term care facility

(L-R)Christopher Clarke, Kim Masland, Darlene Norman and Andrew MacVicar at the groundbreaking for the new Queens long term care facility. Photo Ed Halverson

Years of wrangling to get financing and another two years of planning culminated in a groundbreaking ceremony Monday at the site of the new Queens long-term care home.

Public Works Minister and MLA for Queens Kim Masland and Mayor Darlene Norman joined Queens Manor Executive Director Andrew MacVicar and Board Chair Christopher Clarke at the podium to announce the first physical steps to building the new facility across the parking lot from Queens Place.

In her remarks, Masland said providing a new long-term care home is the reason she got into politics.

“I know Christopher, when he came to me we started talking about this in 2017 when I was elected and I said if I ever make government I’ll make you one promise and it’s the only promise I’m going to make anyone and that is I will deliver the funds for a new long-term care facility in Queens, and here we are.”

Once completed, the new care home will replace the county’s two existing facilities, the privately run Queens Manor and the Region of Queens’ Hillsview Acres.

Norman says the municipal facility has served its purpose for decades and with the new care home, residents have a lot to look forward to.

“It’s been part of the Region for so long, there will be many that will miss it. But to know that the residents are moving into a new facility surrounded by people and children and playgrounds and skate parks and life, it’s a wonderful thing.”

Combined, the aging facilities can currently accommodate 90 residents while the new home will increase that capacity by 22 bringing the total number of available beds in Queens up to 112.

MacVicar says the building is designed with the most modern best practices in mind and was the result of much consultation between residents, staff and professional architects.

“We were very keen to include the people who will use the facility on a day-to-day basis, hands on. So, we included people who work in laundry, people who work in the kitchen, our CCAs our nurses, our environmental staff, our residents, family input, all the way up to board input, and just overall community input. There are a lot of hands and a lot of minds that were involved in the creation of the plan.”

Heavy construction equipment digging up the site of the new Queens long term care home across the parking lot from Queens Place

Construction of the new Queens long term care home gets underway. Photo Ed Halverson

Clarke says he’s worked since 2013 to get a new long-term care facility for Queens and is delighted the province stepped up to secure financing.

“It’s a little under $100 million. Nova Scotia Housing is financing the project for the Queens Manor board. We will own the facility. It will be mortgaged, I suspect, over 40 years so we repay Nova Scotia Housing to pay down that mortgage.”

The new, as yet unnamed long-term care home is scheduled to open in 2026.

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A new way of living is coming to the South Shore

A large crowd gathered in construction site listens to a person speak

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell addresses crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for Treehouse Village Ecovillage. Photo Ed Halverson

After three years of planning Atlantic Canada’s first co-housing project is becoming a reality.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Treehouse Village ecohousing took place Saturday in Bridgewater.

The 30 unit co-housing project is the dream of co-founders Cate and Leon deVreede.

Cate says they didn’t take the conventional route to buying a house.

“We initially started when we were still renting an apartment. We skipped the single-home ownership and went to let’s build a whole neighbourhood,” said deVreede. “That’s the ambitious part maybe, or the dreamer part in us.”

Cohousing is unique in that the future residents work together to decide on the design and pay for the project. It balances privacy with community involvement.

Homes in Treehouse Village will be arranged to allow residents to easily socialize.

Each family will live in their own townhouse-style home but will have access to a large communal kitchen, playroom, library, co-working space, fitness area and dining room for shared meals.

Cate deVreede says going through the process of figuring out how decisions will be made to planning the design has helped the community form before the first foundation is poured and she’s excited to see it taking shape.

“This is really the first physical example that we have of the social community that’s come together already to design and get this thing built,” said deVreede.

A man stands behind a woman speaking into a microphone

Cate and Leon deVreede address the assembled crowd. Photo Ed Halverson

Treehouse Village isn’t just socially progressive. When it is complete, the development will be Atlantic Canada’s largest multi-unit Passive House construction.

That means all structures will be built and tested to meet extremely high-energy efficient standards to lower energy costs and save on long term maintenance.

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony. He is pleased not only with how the development is attracting people to the town from all over but also how the ecohousing project aligns with the energy saving goals of the town’s Energize Bridgewater initiative.

“As we try to be more green, reduce our carbon footprint and try to find innovative ways to reduce our energy consumption, that this is the largest passive community in Nova Scotia, it’s a great template that we can build upon,” said Mitchell.

Of the 30 units only six are still available.

After three years of planning, the development is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2022.

Leon deVreede says when Treehouse Village is complete, moving truck companies better be ready.

“We’re looking at having everything done and having everyone move in together so we can be a community, all at once,” said deVreede. “[It’s a] single-phase build, the money’s in place. It’s going to happen.”

Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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