Gilchrist Manor independent living facility for low-income seniors opens in Calgary

The ribbon has been cut on a new 61-unit independent living facility for low-income seniors in northeast Calgary, but advocates say the new facility doesn't make a dent in the number of units needed in the next couple of decades.

Advocates say the new building fills a growing and vital need

Advocates welcome the new Gilchrist Manor facility but say many more like it are needed (Mark Matulis/CBC)

The ribbon has been cut on a new 61-unit independent living facility for low-income seniors in the community of Pineridge in northeast Calgary.

But advocates are calling affordable seniors' housing an urgent issue, saying the new facility doesn't make a dent in the number of units needed in the next couple of decades.

Calgary senior Mary Kapitan says more investment is needed in affordable housing for seniors (Mark Matulis/CBC)

"We need our government to continue, we need more investors, we need more places like this," says senior Mary Kapitan. "Because the baby boomers are coming, they're on the list."

There are 515,000 seniors in Alberta and that number is expected to reach well over one million by 2030.

Silvera CEO Arlene Adamson says communities like the new Pineridge facility offer a sense of community and vibrancy for seniors (Mark Matulis/CBC)

To ensure all seniors have an affordable place to live, officials say the province needs 3,000 new units a year for the next 15 years.

"That's not a small number, that's not a number that can be done alone by the not-for-profit," says Arlene Adamson, CEO of Silvera, a registered charity that provides affordable housing to lower-income seniors across 26 communities in Calgary, including the new Gilchrist Manor building unveiled on Friday.

"We need to make sure that we do that in a way that it is truly affordable for people to live on fixed incomes or no incomes, frankly, and to live as long as they do," Adamson said.

Silvera will break ground in the fall on a new 116-unit lodge for seniors who need extra supports.