After 65 years of education inside the halls of Rivier Academy, the difficult decision was made to close the campus last year due to costs and dwindling enrolment.
While still home to the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, the building is largely vacant, but that could soon change. A proposal for redevelopment of the massive structure on 15th St. is on the books Monday for city council's consideration. The project would function as a multi-use community hub, centred heavily around new independent housing for seniors.
The project would see the ground floor completely overhauled and converted into commercial units. The four upper floors of the complex would house 140 independent senior living units with common and in-suite laundry. The pool would be maintained and a mixture of programming and rental opportunities would see the facility remain open while working in conjunction with the recently-approved city partnership.
Also proposed was a new 45-space childcare centre with a focus on intergenerational living. The program, according to a report, involves seniors interacting with the children to help prevent loneliness, depression, and boredom. An auditorium, restaurant, gym, hairstylist, pharmacy, massage therapist, optometrist, and doctor's office were also in the blueprints.
Saint Joseph Developments is behind the plan to redevelop and rebrand the complex as Rivier Manor. They cite a focus for creating a long-term legacy project for the community and Sisters as the intention behind the design.
In order to prepare for the forthcoming development permit, minor tweaks and definition changes need to be made to part of the city's zoning bylaw for institutions, which is up for a first reading Monday night. Following that, administration anticipates a number of further applications to come forward, including a subdivision application to consolidate that land that is composed of 27 individual lots. A public hearing on the matter also needs to be held.
Seniors' advocate Dr. John Fryters praised the proposal, saying when it comes to housing options, more is always better.
“The more variety there is and the more choice there is in housing, the better it is for seniors,” he said while inviting a supplementary focus on affordable housing options for seniors.
Fryters said Prince Albert has become a hub for senior living and cited the growing population of those over the age of 65 — projected to be 25 per cent of Canada by 2036 — as a need to bolster the development of seniors' housing projects. Fryters also believed the redevelopment would be an appropriate use for the building, both structurally and philosophically.
“When we are talking about the general philosophy of that building, it has always been to take care of people,” he said. “I think the Sisters will be very happy with that.”
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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