Studio Alberta meets with Three Hills Officials



Town of Three Hills officials met with Colin Lowden and Mary Saunders on August 5th to hear a proposal. The pair, from Ponoka, started Studio Alberta Affordable Housing, a project designed to provide adequate, affordable housing, primarily, but not exclusively, for Alberta Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) recipients, in private, self-contained suites.
These suites are constructed like studio or bachelor apartments, with no bedrooms. Each suite is 325 square feet, and features private entrances opening into the Courtyard. There are no hallways, ensuring maximum privacy and security. Soundproofing board and "Safe and Sound" insulation make the apartments quieter and more comfortable.
For people who receive AISH, which is just under $1200 a month, they need a place that is affordable, independent and safe. Studio Alberta projects exceed those requirements. The number of people in need of such facilities from the Three Hills area will be assessed. If there is a demand for a wheelchair accessible room(s), then the building will be equipped with the required number of suites. Within the barrier-free suites are wheelchair turning areas in the kitchen and bathroom, and much of the apartment is custom designed to wheelchair height, like lowered counter tops, light switches and windows.
The average monthly rate for Studio Alberta is $400 plus utilities, excluding water, which is included in the rent.
Due to the nature of the project, the landlord is more involved than might otherwise be the case in the day-to-day management. Tenants must be able to live on their own but tenants with outreach, health or social workers are welcome. Projects are conveniently located within easy walking distance of services such as grocery stores, pharmacies, clinics, laundromats and convenience stores. This makes finding the ideal land a challenge. For Three Hills, considered areas are the old Fire Hall, the old Prairie Post Office lot, and the corner of Highway 583 and 6th Ave. The size of land is estimated at 75 ft. x 120 ft. for 10 suites. This also allows for expansion if necessary. Studio Alberta requires seven months to complete. Currently, there are three completed and fully occupied projects in Ponoka (24 suites), Olds (15 suites), Drumheller (15 suites) and an 18 unit project is under construction in Vegreville.
Colin and Mary have to submit their proposal to the government by September, and if it is approved, it is likely building will begin in the spring of 2011.