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Buhler Centre opening supportive housing unit

Lauren MacGill

Board chair George Klassen and executive director Mike Chute said after receiving no funding from the government, they will be doing it "the Winkler way."

Board chair George Klassen and executive director Mike Chute said after receiving no funding from the government, they will be doing it "the Winkler way."

WINKLER - 

Despite a lack of funding from the government, the Buhler Active Living Centre is moving forward with plans to open their second floor as supportive housing.
The Centre held their grand opening in September of last year, and the eight-storey building includes restaurant-style dining, an exercise facility and activities for residents.
The second floor, however, has sat vacant in that time. “The province just doesn’t have any more funding for healthcare,” board chair George Klassen said. “We’re not getting any government funding at all. We’re just going to go ahead and do it the Winkler way and get it done.”
Executive director Mike Chute said the original plan for the building was to have this supportive housing unit, but it has been hard to secure funding. “[It’s a] huge need,” he said. “We get a lot of phone calls, there are people sitting in homes and the hospital waiting for placement somewhere. They can live in this kind of environment, but they can’t live at home. We’re filling a really big need in the community.”
The supportive housing unit will have 24 private rooms divided into two distinct ‘communities.’ Meals will be brought up from the kitchen and served in a communal dining area. “This is probably unique in our community,” Chute said. “I don’t think we have anything like this kind of setting.”
The arrangement will allow for socialization among residents, and staff and volunteers will be leading various activities. The space has a brand new kitchen, which will allow residents to do some cooking and baking.
Chute is hoping that relying heavily on volunteers will reduce staffing costs and allow the building to move forward with their plan. “We’re going it on our own here,” Chute explained. “When the building was constructed, one of the plans was to have this facility. It’s been a bit of a journey as far as getting the funding we needed.”
One of the benefits the Centre foresees will be keeping families together. A partner who needs supportive care can live on the second floor and get that help, and a partner who doesn’t need those services can still live in the same building and share meals.
One new addition on the second floor will be a terrace, which will allow residents to do gardening, have picnics or just relax in the sun. Two rooms will also be dedicated specifically to respite.
The Centre hopes the second floor supportive housing will get started in August or September, but Chute acknowledges that the plan depends on getting staff in place.