Letter: Too many issues over proposal

I am not against a seniors’ centre, but there are too many issues around urbanization in this particular area, writes Tara Werner.

An open letter to MLA Linda Larson

I am writing this letter to express my opposition to the proposed seniors’ housing project on the corner of the only piece of wild lakeshore left at Christina Lake.

This beautiful piece of land is easily accessible for nature lovers and walkers of all ages.

It is the home of a beaver dam, and a great spot to watch ducks, geese, otters, eagles, swans and other wildlife. Bear are often in the park in the summer months. Thoughtful consideration has gone into creating several walking trails along the waterfront and curling through the marsh to provide amazing views. Carefully placed benches and picnic tables encourage people to linger. The Christina Lake Stewardship Society has an active role in this park and is attempting to replant native species along the waterfront. Now this proposal will change a corner of our park into a seniors complex and parking lot.

At a recent community meeting, many of us showed up to voice concerns for the impact on wildlife and the public who use this park. Locals, including senior walkers, are concerned that their trail access will be compromised if the facility’s parking lot encroaches on the current public parking area at the trail head. This concern, when voiced was brushed aside in a comment that the trail head could be moved. To move the trail head further impacts the environment and the wildlife.

Perhaps Christina Lake is in need of seniors’ housing, but a seniors’ manufactured home park currently exists and is underused, with empty lots and numerous homes sitting empty on the real estate market for long periods of time.

Is it 55+ anymore? I think poor sales have changed designation, but can’t find a current MLS listing. The new facility will be intended for 55+, but it will be zoned multi-family. It is not an assisted living facility, but rather waterfront condominiums.

So far there is no concrete number for units or inhabitants. The number seems to be rising with the cost of the project. The recent quote was 14 or more units. It seems that many of the units will likely be two bedrooms, so a caregiver can have a bedroom.

There is concern that the seniors’ designation could change if seniors can’t afford to live there and units sit vacant. This could happen within a few years of completion, or more.

It is intended that the complex will share a living water treatment facility (using live

plants) that currently exists and is used by the Christina Lake Welcome Centre. The

centre has a restaurant and a number of toilets. At the recent community meeting, we heard that the treatment facility, designed for use by 25 to 30 people, will need to be expanded to meet the needs of the seniors’ centre, at a yet to be determined cost.

This proposed seniors’ centre is near a very busy Highway 3 with many businesses nearby. Unfortunately residents will have to cross the highway to access a grocery, post office, drug store, medical offices and new retail space. There is no crosswalk and no sidewalks to any of these amenities.

Another new concern that came up at the latest meeting regarding this center involves proposed businesses being added to the housing complex, to offset expenses. A children’s daycare facility, wellness centre and another office/retail space were ideas offered up.

This drew concern from the community members present because we already have local people providing some of these same services. Are we going to undermine existing businesses, ran by residents trying to support their families?

As I approach my senior years, knowing I will never be able to afford a space in these condos, must I worry about losing my access to this beautiful park? I hate to think I might not be able to see the eagles fishing, the otters playing, geese, ducks and swans with their families. I shared the trails with my children and I would like share them with my grandchildren!

I would like to ask you consider this situation and the impact this will have on our beautiful lake and community. I am not against a seniors’ centre, but there are too many issues around urbanization in this particular area, the impact on wild life, the sewage treatment and thoughtful access to our last piece of wild lake left.

Thank you for reading this. If you ever are in the area, I hope you will stop by and enjoy this rare piece of nature!

– Tara Werner, Christina Lake

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