ARICHAT: The community of Isle Madame will soon receive a new facility for people with disabilities.
Late last month, the province announced that over the next two years it will develop eight community-based homes for Nova Scotians with disabilities.
The Department of Community Services has been working with the Hearts of Isle Madame Disability Society board to renovate a former convent on the High Road in Arichat.
“The first floor is sufficient size to hold or host a four-bed small options home,” said Randy Acker, director of disability support programs with the Department of Community Services. “So we are looking to assist them with the renovations…”
Because the first floor is at ground level, it is important to make it fully accessible with the construction of ramps, Acker explained.
WinMar recently performed some remediation work involving asbestos removal, ahead of the start of construction, Acker said.
As part of the process, the Department of Community Services has established requirements for the renovations which have been passed on to the Hearts of Isle Madame board. The board has now submitted their plans back to the department for approval.
“We are just finalizing the drawings and getting that through the system approved, and then we would give them the greenlight, and they’ll bring in the contractors following that,” Acker noted.
Because the home in Arichat is the only such facility planned for the region, Acker said the renovations have already been assigned to a service provider.
Acker hopes that once the department gives their approval “shortly,” construction would start immediately after and take approximately five to six months, according to estimates provided to the Hearts of Isle Madame society from private contractors.
“As the owners of the property [Hearts of Isle Madame] they’re responsible for much of that, so as a result, they’ve been making those calls,” Acker explained.
The development of more community-based homes for persons with disabilities is part of government’s commitment to an accessible province by 2030. Government increased its investment for the eight homes with an additional $1 million in Budget 2018-2019, bringing the total to $5.2 million over two years. There are currently 223 community-based, small option homes in Nova Scotia.
“We know that smaller, community-based homes are often the best living option for Nova Scotians with disabilities,” said Community Services Minister Kelly Regan. “Moving toward community-based homes instead of larger facilities will allow residents and their families to be more involved and included as part of their communities.”
Acker agreed that these types of projects are what the community wants and what government needs to provide.
“Government has the commitment to provide small options homes in as many communities as possible…,” Acker said. “We try to meet their choice of the home communities they want to live, so we need to have facilities in those locations and this is part of that.”