All those stories written about “What I did on my Summer Vacation” are usually boring unless of course they happen to you. My summer vacation mostly consisted of celebrating my 80th birthday July 25 and the three weeks preceding and following this memorable date. I am still recovering from it. Boring it was not, starting with the arrival of two of my sons and a grandson two weeks before the actual event. They were followed by a caravan of other relatives from the east until our core group consisted of 19 avid relatives and seasoned partygoers, all intent on honouring their elder and having a darned good time.
My poor daughter. She had people sleeping on mattresses on her floor and fed the hordes each night. But what a great present for me. All my four sons and daughter and their assorted partners and kids were together for the first time in about 25 years. The birthday itself was highlighted by a party at the Schubert Centre with friends and with much outpouring of love and the telling of old stories, mostly lies about me. Turning 80 was a joy I shall never forget.
This brings me to my first rant — blue boxes. Who in their right minds could think this system is working? If anyone was monitoring the increase of garbage going to the dump I am sure they must have noticed a large increase since the blue box program began. A lot of seniors have just given up the struggle and garbage everything, This is a shame as most of us believe in conservation and have been recycling for many years with great pride. No one wants to give up but when it is so difficult and painful to lug out these monstrous bins and put them back, what else can you do. Last week I came home to a blue box still full of recyclables, with a note telling me it wasn’t sorted properly. It seems there was a paper in the wrong bin. I just about cried — talk about adding insult to injury. Many seniors have been speaking out about the problems and have complained, but who is listening. It is easier to just put out the garbage.
Some good news, as the building of Catherine Gardens, a Schubert Centre project and housing development for seniors 55 and above, is proceeding on schedule. So far 40 of the 56 suites have been sold, with about six more in negotiations. Completion and move-in is scheduled for March 2016. Unit costs run from $250,000 to $350,000 depending on floor plans and added amenities, with about 20 per cent needed for the down payment. Most seniors are usually downsizing and trading in their old homes for the opportunity to live downtown, be close to medical care, not have to drive if they so choose and be free of the cares of grass and snow and property upkeep.
A life lease arrangement is part of the deal and is a 30-year renewable lease that gives you exclusive use of your residence, while the Schubert Centre owns the physical property. When you’re ready to sell, the Schubert Centre will buy back your residence. This is a great opportunity for care-free living downtown.
I am trying to get a list together of cheap opportunities for low-income seniors. Today the focus is SAFER (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters), a provincial program for seniors over 60 who rent. SAFER helps make rents affordable for those with low to moderate incomes. Gross monthly income cannot exceed $2,223 for singles; $2,423 for a couple and $1,776 for shared accommodation to be eligible. Applications are available by mail by calling 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756 or pick up a copy at the Seniors Information Centre at Nexus — they would be glad to help you fill it out. Their number is 250-545-8572.
Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan, appearing every other Sunday.