Manitoba Housing move shocks Minnedosa seniors

Townview Manor in downtown Minnedosa. (Eva Wasney/The Brandon Sun)

In December 2015, a seniors home in downtown Minnedosa was the target of upgrades and renovations by Manitoba Housing. The residents were surprised to receive eviction notices ahead of the New Year. A follow-up seven months later revealed construction had yet to begin at the provincially-run complex.

MINNEDOSA — Instead of celebrating, residents of Townview Manor rang in the new year trying to find a new place to live.

The 27 residents of the Manitoba Housing complex in downtown Minnedosa found out on Dec. 29, that they were being kicked out of their suites to allow for a “deep refresh” of the building.

 “This was the first time they became aware that they would be relocated,” Adele Eamer said during a meeting with The Brandon Sun on Saturday.

Eamer’s mother, Marie Anne Saler, has lived in the building for three years and says while talk of renovations is nothing new, the original plan was to move tenants within the building during construction.

“I was going to be moved to the other side (of the building) … and they were going to work on this half initially,” Saler said, adding that last Tuesday’s news was a “real shock.”

“I’m really frustrated because it’s not the kind of message you want your family to receive days before the new year,” said Eamer, who lives in New Brunswick but was home for the holidays.

Townview residents say Manitoba Housing stopped taking new tenants at one point to keep the 56-unit apartment building at half-occupancy to allow for the shuffle.

Now, residents say the plans has changed because Manitoba Housing wants to get the renos done faster and avoid disrupting tenants during construction.

According to Julie DeVoin of communications services Manitoba, the $6.9-million revamp will include the complete demolition of existing suites to create 42 new one bedroom units; as well as kitchen and bathroom upgrades, sewage line replacement and mechanical and electrical improvements.

“(Housing and Community Development) will be working with existing tenants to relocate them in the least disruptive way possible,” DeVoin said in an email. “As housing is limited in Minnedosa, some tenants may be relocated to other communities.”

Tenants must be out of the building by May 31, 2016 and DeVoin says that all affected residents will be moved to units within HDC’s portfolio at the cost of the department — in Tuesday’s letter of termination, moving compensation maxes out at $500.

The current residents will also get first dibs on suites when the renos are done, although it’s not clear how long they will take.

Still, moving out of Minnedosa isn’t an attractive option for most of the Townview tenants — the oldest of whom is 102-years-old.

“All of us, pretty well, are senior citizens,” Saler said, adding that she would like to stay close to her son who lives in Minnedosa.

Mary Dyck is 93-years-old and has lived in the building for five years. She receives Home Care support four to six times a day and her family is worried that if she has to move to smaller town she won’t have the same access.

“One Home Care worker said ‘we don’t do the small towns because we can do three people in the length of time they can do 16 here,’” Mary’s daughter-in-law Kerrie said. “Home care even has a suite here — stormy weather they can stay right in the building until everybody’s tucked in.”

Mary is also worried about leaving her husband who lives in the personal care home in Minnedosa.

“He’d be very upset if I didn’t come to see him, he phones me so often,” Mary said.

Bill Simmons says he doesn’t mind it if he can move to Brandon, as he has a brother in the city, but he wouldn’t be able to access his current services.

“With no car how am I supposed to get back to check my mail or say I have a medical appointment,” Simmons said.

Hector Cameron has lived in the manor for 8.5 years and will be moving back to his farm, 20 km out of town, if he can’t find a place in Minnedosa.

“It’s not convenient or anything, I’ve got to try and find something in Minnedosa because I won’t move anywhere else,” said Cameron, who uses a wheelchair. “I’m not gonna be thrown out in the snowbank.”

At 77 years old, Wayne Bercier is one of the only Townview residents who still drives. Upon hearing the news last week, he started looking and has already found a place in Onanole.

“Onanole is fine … but it is so quiet there in the winter time, it’s like sitting in the middle of Alaska,” Bercier said, adding that his doctor is in Rivers and the hour-long drive in the winter is worrisome. “I was kind of hoping Neepawa so I could be close to the hospital.”

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