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Municipalities onside with multi-million dollar St. Paul seniors housing project

Commit to $12 million share of project cost
A $50 million seniors housing project for Sunnyside Manor in St. Paul has the support of MD Foundation of St. Paul partner municipalities.

ST. PAUL - An ambitious and much needed upgrade to Sunnyside Manor in St. Paul, including a new 90-unit seniors housing addition, has taken an important step forward with the Town of St. Paul, County of St. Paul and Town of Elk Point agreeing to a capital funding commitment of $12 million.

The Sunnyside Manor Replacement and Repair Project is pegged at $49,970,000 and includes both a new construction and upgrade for Sunnyside. Outlined in the plan is the removal of 30 cottage units, the demolition of the 1960-1987 era blocks, the addition of a 90-unit new build at the existing location, including the replacement of the common service area and refurbishing of the 2008 addition.

Last week, all three MD of St. Paul Foundation member municipalities agreed to the $12 million partnership that would see $8 million of it secured through Canada Mortgage and Housing with the commitment of the three partners to repay this portion of financing. The remaining $4 million is an upfront capital commitment of the municipalities managed by equalized assessment. Based on this formula, the County’s capital contribution is $8,369,000, the Town of St. Paul’s portion is $2,963,000 and the Town of Elk Point investment would be $668,000.

However, the project is far from the shovel in the ground phase, and last week’s support from member municipalities hinges on a number of factors, not least of which is the MD Foundation securing other revenue sources if the project is to move forward.

The MD’s plan for the rest of the funding breaks down this way: CMHC loan with 10-year fixed rate - $23,470,000, CMHC loan forgivable portion - $2.5 million, provincial contribution of $8 million plus another $4 million in matching funds from the province.

The MD Foundation submitted a needs assessment to the province last year as the Alberta Government announced a 10-year plan to improve affordable housing in the province. As part of that provincial commitment, the $55 million cost-sharing Affordable Housing Partnership Framework program was announced. To be considered for up to one-third funding through this avenue, projects must meet specific criteria including 70 per cent of its housing units meet the affordability definition.

The member municipalities approved the MD Foundation moving forward with acquiring approval of using existing lands at Sunnyside for the project, advancing its planning for the project, soliciting the province for funding support and advancing applications through CMHC or other sources.

“The MD Foundation is actually the carrier of the great majority of the expense,” Mayor Maureen Miller said during last Monday’s St. Paul town council meeting.

“We don’t anticipate our requisitions to be any higher because the actual opportunity now, when we rent out this facility, it would actually cover the costs of the actual debt that the MD Foundation is taking on,” Miller said. “At any point, there’s check points that if in fact it’s over what the community feels it can bear, we have opportunity to pull out at four points throughout this process. This approval today will allow  actual community engagement, what is the community looking for, what does the design look like and the opportunity to send it out to bids.”

Coun. Ron Boisvert questioned what the impact to residents during the demolition and construction phase would be.

Miller said residents would remain in place, with new construction occurring around the existing facility, “until they are relocated in the new facility and then demolishing the Sunnyside that’s there. So, that now becomes a parking lot and a common green space which was very important for the residents to have, which we presently don’t have.”

Miller told council the plan is to have project funding in place by 2024 and the majority of the work completed with about a one-year timeframe following that.

“I think it was a solid, solid opportunity and after this first phase, if the community says ‘no’, we’ve done our due diligence in making the opportunity available to our community and if the community says it is just too much for them to handle, well then status quo is what we presently have.”

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