BUSINESS FEATURE: Christina Lake Village gets a facelift
As you drive through the resort community of Christina Lake you may have noticed the makeover taking place at the mall as you approach from the west. A couple from Lumby are responsible for the new look and feel of the cluster of services. Reporter Anisah Madden went to find out just what the future holds. Current predictions are clear that there is an overwhelming proportion of the Canadian population who are seniors or will be in the next five years. Paula and Scott Harned from Lumby, B.C. know about this trend, and even more importantly, feel it’s critical to age in a multi-generational community setting. The Harneds, with their four young children, bought the Christina Lake Village property last April to fulfill their vision for a full-service seniors’ village that will benefit local residents and visitors to the area alike. Under their direction, is it being transformed into a community-based seniors’ residence. “There is an opportunity to make this into a real community” said Paula, who was inspired by her work as a school trustee for the Vernon school district. “I’ve learned a lot about the need in society for inter-generational living. When I see what’s happening with society: we have disconnected youth, and we have seniors that are perfectly comfortable in their homes but are not connected to the community or living healthy, active lifestyles.” Offering a middle option between home care and residential care, the couple is converting 22 units of the existing motel into seniors’ residences. Seniors who move into the residence will have independence, social and recreational opportunities, close access to all the facilities at the Village, and assistance if needed. Residents eat at the restaurant, ordering from the menu whenever they like, explained Paula. Their three-meals-a-day are included in the monthly fee. Residents at the Village have a light housekeeping service included for bedding and towels weekly, and access to the laundromat at the site for other laundry needs. The restaurant and other businesses in the Village are open to both the public and residents giving them regular opportunities to interact and build friendships. The Harneds see this as a chance for seniors to continue to be part of the community rather than living in isolation. Seven units will remain as a motel rooms for visiting relatives and tourists who can also use the 47 recreational vehicle sites on the property. “Seniors need to be given choices and opportunities as they age,” expressed Paula. “They need to be given respect and support. If we all work together we can make our lives more beautiful and fulfilling.” There are big plans for the strip mall too. The Harneds will be keeping some of the businesses themselves, and are looking for entrepreneurs who want to be part of the revitalization of the Village. The Harneds are currently running the restaurant, which has a relaxed, family atmosphere. There is a small video store next door which will soon be converted to an extended dining area, with a billiards and air hockey tables in the back, again encouraging full community use. When they opened a few teenagers stopped by. “They asked me if they could use the billiards table, and wanted to know how much they had to pay. I told them as long as they included anyone else who wanted to play in their games that they were welcome to use it anytime, at no cost,” said Paula. Her dream is to walk in there one day and see a teenager playing a billiards game with one of the residents at the Village, “Then I’ll know that this concept is really working…that will be a great day.” A large space in the complex, which the Harneds are renovating into a 2200 square foot hall, currently hosts a Saturday craft market, and regular classes in Jazzercise, yoga and bellydance. Eventually the space will have a capacity of 150 people able to host socials and dances, and will be available to rent for community functions. Next door to the hall the empty grocery store, fully equipped with coolers, freezers, shelving and check out stations, is slated for a natural foods store scheduled to open in early summer of this year. To the West of the strip mall is a large open grassy area, and 3.5 acres of trees that make up the property. “Scott drove a lawnmower through there and started to make pathways,” Paula explained. “It will be a lovely area for people to walk through; we will put some benches along the route for relaxation as well.” The grassy area has potential to become a weekly market in the summertime giving the resident seniors, community members, and tourists more options for things to do and ways to connect. Scott’s mum, Pat Walker, who was visiting her family loves the idea of the Village. “The concept of making this into inclusive seniors housing is fabulous,” said Walker. “I’ve seen what happens to seniors that go into homes…here there is an atmosphere where people really care. I’m living independently right now, but one day, if I needed the support – I would move here. It would be ideal because I’m still very independent, but I would know I’m looked after.” Paula and Scott see this project as a labour of love, a way to give back and make a difference. “There is a large trend of seniors moving to more rural areas – but the services need to be there,” Paula commented. “We are about providing the opportunities for people to live in their glory years without being overburdened by the tasks of daily life.”
Check out their website at www.christinalakevillage.com or call 1.866.460.9447.