After years of waiting, the Willow Square Continuing Care Facility will break ground next year in downtown Fort McMurray.
On Tuesday, Alberta Infrastructure and Alberta Health Services discussed the long-awaited project with Wood Buffalo council. The plans are to start construction in spring 2018, taking around two years to complete.
Though the reactions were mostly positive, there were some concerns about whether or not the work will actually get done.
“I’m a little wary, until we see actual buildings going up, not just shovels in the ground but the cement being poured,” said Councillor Phil Meagher.
Meanwhile, Councillor Tyran Ault said he’s upset it took this long to start construction, calling the entire a process a “shame.”
“There were some great men and women who could have spent their last years in that facility but we’ll get it right now for them.”
The facility will be for people of all ages, not just seniors, who need additional help.
So far, the plans include having 108-beds with an additional floor being built to add another 36 beds if the need for the facility increases.
“When we open beds, we’ll fill the beds,” added Denise Wilkinson, Area Manager for Seniors Health. “We are seeing a steep increase in elderly parents relocating here so they always say build it and they will come.”
Around 70 per cent of the area will be used for the continuing care facility, the remaining 30 per cent will see an Aging-in-Place facility.
This building would most likely house seniors who don’t need the specific aid from a continuing care facility, just a place for them to call home.
Right now, there is no date for construction, no exact plans for the facility or a design.
“Promises without specific dates are like dreams so I’m hoping to see something more substantial in the next little while,” added Meagher.
Alberta Infrastructure is planning to put up a new sign on Willow Square, updating the construction dates, in the coming weeks.