Three municipalities have joined forces in an effort to create supportive housing in the Red River Valley region. 

Councils for the R.M. of Montcalm, R.M. of Morris, and the Town of Morris have jointly launched a not-for-profit organization, Red River Supportive Housing - Logement Supervisé de la Rivière Rouge Inc., to move this work forward. The goal is to enhance housing, social, economic, and community services in the three municipalities and surrounding areas.

Initial efforts for the inaugural Board of Directors, consisting of Councillors Harold Janzen (RM of Montcalm), Shane Kroeker (RM of Morris), and Chris Hamblin (Town of Morris), will be focused on age-appropriate housing to ensure community elders in the region can age-in-place.

"We really do need this in the area," said Hamblin, who is serving as Board Chair, noting many people have left the area because they can't get the type of housing and the supports they need. "These are people that have been long-time residents, have contributed all their life to the community, the area that they live in, and now we're seeing them have to live someplace else. We don't want that to happen anymore. We want people to live and manage in their own facility right here at home so that their friends and family are close by."

"Our R.M. was approached as to our interest in participating in this joint venture," explained Paul Gilmore, Reeve for the R.M. of Montcalm. "The decision to join the RM of Morris and the Town of Morris was not very difficult. Our unison brings a bigger voice, along with an increased population, to the project which, hopefully, will be largely funded by Government funds. Also, the issue of our aging population is not foreign to our RM and we are becoming weary of our elderly seeking supportive housing elsewhere due to the lack of same in our area. We look forward to the culmination of a successful project for our area."

The hope, added Hamblin, is to eventually build a larger supportive/assisted housing facility in the region with the idea that by pooling resources and their populations, this can become a reality.

In a statement, the Board said the municipalities are committed to supporting existing senior housing providers and creating new supportive housing units that balance fiscal, social, and ecological outcomes for the common good of all ratepayers.

"We know that there are some small facilities in many of our communities, and when they're small, the economics are difficult to manage. And so, we're hoping that by pooling the resources and building a facility that is a little bit larger, that we'll have the resources to make that work and then we can use those resources to assist the smaller facilities in the area as well," explained Hamblin. 

Those resources could include Human Resources, food services or even home care. 

A community consultation process will be initiated early in the year, beginning with a community survey, to ensure any future housing development undertaken addresses the various supportive housing needs in the region. Residents of the three municipalities can expect those surveys in their mailbox in the next week or so, said Hamblin.

"We want to really make sure that what we think citizens are asking for or wanting is, in fact, what they do want. So, we'll be looking for what kinds of amenities they want in a facility, what size of suites they think is appropriate, timelines of when people are going to be ready to move to a facility like this, how many are actually seriously thinking this is something they would want or use as time moves on, what can people afford to pay?"

The survey will also be available online on each municipality's website and at each municipality administration office. 

"Those responses are very important to the next step of getting this a reality, so we encourage people to take a look at it and fill it in," said Hamblin.