$13.4 million assisted living for South Asian seniors opens in Surrey

    SURREY, BC, April 10 /CNW/ - Federal, provincial and community funding
partners gathered today to celebrate the opening of Progressive Intercultural
Community Services Society's (PICS) Guru Nanak Niwas Assisted Living project,
a $13.4 million, 72-unit assisted living development designed for South Asian
seniors - a first for British Columbia.
    "Canada's New Government is delivering on our commitment to create
affordable housing in British Columbia," said Nina Grewal, Member of
Parliament for Fleetwood-Port Kells, on behalf of the Honourable Monte
Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. "With the opening
of this project, seniors will have access to quality, affordable housing and
the services they need to meet their specific needs while allowing them to
remain close to their families and friends in the community."
    The new units are funded under Independent Living BC (ILBC), an
innovative housing-for-health program managed by the province and Fraser
Health in partnership with the Government of Canada through Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
    "Today's opening reflects this government's commitment to ensure seniors
have access to independent, affordable housing," said Minister responsible for
Housing, Rich Coleman. "This facility provides seniors with the housing and
support services they need, in a cultural setting that truly makes it home".
    Assisted living homes are self-contained apartments where residents
receive hospitality and personal care services, such as meals, housekeeping
and laundry services, recreational opportunities, assistance with medications,
mobility and other care needs, as well as a 24-hour response system. Fraser
Health will provide funding for these personal care services.
    "Regardless of culture, seniors do not want to live in an institutional
setting with 24-hour nursing care if they have the option of living
independently with some support and continued involvement with their family
and in their community," said Keith Anderson, Interim President and CEO of
Fraser Health. "Seniors whose families are challenged by circumstance and by
cultural expectations around elder care will find this culturally sensitive
development particularly attractive."
    "Surrey is a community that embraces and embodies many cultures," said
Dianne Watts, Mayor of Surrey. "To have an assisted living development that
celebrates that diversity is a wonderful addition to this city and will richly
add to the lives of seniors in our community."
    PICS, a strong advocate for the multicultural and immigrant community in
the Lower Mainland, is the first South Asian immigrant society to partner with
the provincial and federal- government to build an assisted living
    "PICS is pleased to offer a unique living environment that takes into
account the specific language, culture and food needs of South Asian seniors,"
said Charan Gill, Chief Executive Officer of PICS. "Guru Nanak Niwas Assisted
Living will allow these seniors to maintain their independence in a supportive
    While the development is designed to accommodate the specific needs of
the South Asian population by offering Punjabi, Gujarati, halal and vegetarian
meals; staff fluent in Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and Fijian Hindi; and homes close
to a Sikh temple and other cultural destinations, seniors from all
nationalities are offered an inclusive home environment.
    These new units are part of the British Columbia Government's commitment
to provide 5,000 net-new residential care beds, assisted living units, and
supportive housing with home support units by the end of 2008. To date, 8,102
new and replacement beds and units have been built, including 2,984 net-new.
    The Province of British Columbia, through ILBC, is committed to providing
more than 4,000 affordable assisted living apartments for B.C. seniors and
persons with disabilities. To date, more than 3,900 have been allocated in
communities across the province. The Province's budget for shelters and
affordable housing is $328 million - nearly triple what it was in 2001.
    The Government of Canada, through Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation, will contribute more than $130 million by 2010 towards affordable
housing in this province. The provincial government will provide a minimum of
$34 million annually to subsidize the cost of units built under the Canada-BC
Affordable Housing Agreement, as part of a larger strategy to provide a range
of housing options for British Columbians in greatest need.


    Guru Nanak Niwas Assisted Living, 12075-75A Avenue in Surrey, provides 72
one-bedroom assisted living apartments. All of the units in the four-storey,
wood-frame building are wheelchair accessible.
    The development will connect to, and share services with, the existing
54-unit supportive seniors' housing complex that PICS operates on the same
    Tenants will pay 70 per cent of their after-tax income for their units
and receive hospitality and personal care services, such as meals,
housekeeping and laundry, recreational programs, assistance with medications,
mobility and other care needs, and a 24-hour response system.
    The complex is near a Sikh temple and within walking distance of shops
and other amenities. Guru Nanak Niwas was the founding father of the Sikh

    Partners and Funding

    The capital cost of this project is $13,385,180 with funding from:

    -   The Government of Canada, through CMHC, provided a $1.8 million
        capital grant;

    -   The provincial government provided a one-time grant of $10,385,180;

    -   $1.1 million in personal care services through Fraser Health; and

    -   $1.2 million in land equity provided by the Society.

    Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society

    The Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society was formed in
1987 to promote harmony and intercultural understanding and support the
building of a more inclusive and respectful society; to ensure equal access to
jobs and services, and to work with other agencies and institutions.
    The Society provides employment services, job mentoring,
immigration/settlement services, health education, dental programs, youth
programs, volunteer programs, English-language training, drug/alcohol
counselling, agricultural workers' programs, a dance academy, an organic
farming institute and training, and seniors' housing. They also work in
collaboration with Kwantlen College to provide courses in masonry, carpentry
skills, sheet metal, welding and training in many more trades needed by the
business community.
    The Society is a strong advocate for the multicultural and immigrant
community, particularly the South Asian community.

For further information:

For further information: Laura Kohli, BC Housing, (604) 439-8583, (604)
805-4960 (cell); Savik Sidhu, Fraser Health, (604) 587-4609; Megan Shaw, CMHC,
(604) 737-4062; Charan Gill, Chief Executive Officer, Progressive
Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS), (604) 596-7722

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