COLUMBIAN PLACE OPENS — Columbian Place building manager Ron Frehlich, contractor Wally Mah, MP Kelly Block, Mayor Don Atchison, MLA June Draude, KC Charities president Ron Martens (left to right) during the ribbon cutting celebration Sept. 11 to officially open Columbian Place in Saskatoon. (Yaworski photo)
Columbian Place officially opens
SASKATOON — Community representatives, church leaders and politicians recently gathered with Knights of Columbus members and residents to officially open a new affordable housing complex for seniors in Saskatoon’s core neighbourhood.
Columbian Place, located kitty corner from St. Mary Parish on 20th Street in Saskatoon, is a $12.4 million faith-based housing complex initiatied and operated by KC Charities, constructed with support from all levels of government.
The first residents began moving into the 75-unit building in May. Now home to 105 residents, Columbian Place already has a waiting list, report managers Ron and Elaine Frehlich, who are graduates of the diocesan Lay Formation program.
Funding for the Columbian Place project came from the federal government’s Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the provincial government’s Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (totalling some $8 million), as well as from the City of Saskatoon, which sold the land to KC Charities for the project for $1, and also provided a grant of $885,000 to the project. In addition, KC Charities committed some $3.1 million to the facility, raised by volunteers and donations.
At the opening celebration Sept. 11, Bishop Donald Bolen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and Rev. Janko Kolosnjaji of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon together blessed the building, standing in the bright entranceway and turning in the four directions, surrounded by Columbian Place residents and guests.
Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison then cut the ribbon to officially open Columbian Place, standing alongside KC Charities president Ron Martens, federal MP Kelly Block, provincial Minister of Social Services June Draude, contractor Wally Mah of North Ridge Development, and the Frehlichs, representing residents.
The quiet, air-conditioned building has both one- and two-bedroom suites, with such amenities as underground parking, security features, individual balconies, a large common assembly area, a multipurpose room, and hair salon.
The site’s proximity to churches of several denominations, to St. Paul’s Hospital and the newly opened Good Food Junction made it a good choice for the KC Charities project, points out Bob Jeanneau, chair of the executive management committee, who has been involved in the housing initiatives from the beginning. St. Mary Parish and the Pleasant Hill community “have embraced us,” says Jeanneau, adding that Saskatoon’s 19 Knights of Columbus councils can be proud of the project and the part it plays in the revitalization of the west-side neighbourhood.
KC Charities first seniors’ housing development was Columbian Manor, constructed in 1996 in Saskatoon’s Eastview neighbourhood, with an expansion in 1999 and the addition of assisted living units in 2007. As with Columbian Manor, the new Columbian Place facility on the west side of the city serves those 55 years of age and older who meet income requirements set by the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation.
Program MC and building committee chair Bill Coumont of KC Charities Inc. described Columbian Place as “a very welcome addition to Pleasant Hill” and acknowledged the support of the federal, provincial and municipal governments in making the building a reality.
“It has made a significant difference in this area,” agreed the mayor, stressing the leadership role of the Columbian Place project in the revitalization underway in the neighbourhood. “It has sent a message to the people who live in this community that people care about them.”
MLA June Draude, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, said Columbian Place is an example of what can be accomplished when different levels of government work with organizations and the private sector to meet needs in the community.
She acknowledged the vision and determination of KC Charities in launching and persevering with the project, which will make a tangible difference in the quality of life for seniors in the community.
“As we grow older, we know that affordability and being able to live independently in our senior years is really an important and integral part of feeling self-worth. This project and others like it are helping to make sure that for many seniors this isn’t a dream, it’s a reality,” Draude said.
Martens described the history of the fundraising and charitable works undertaken by KC Charities, which began in 1984 with the operation of a bingo hall near to the new Columbian Place facility. Bingo ended for the organization several years ago, he noted, but KC Charities continues to work to improve the community, particularly in the area of affordable housing.