Lodge open after four-year closure
High River: Medicine Tree Manor welcomes residents after flood, fire closed its doors
Wednesday, Dec 06, 2017 06:00 am
After four long years, residents and staff of a High River lodge are happy to be back home.
Medicine Tree Manor, operated by Westwinds Communities, suffered extensive damage during the 2013 flood and had to be demolished. It was being rebuilt in 2015 when a fire broke out, burning it to the ground. The manor was unoccupied at the time of the fire, but it delayed the reopening of the home by two additional years.
Medicine Tree Manor finally reopened on Oct. 24 and is more more than 85 per cent occupied.
“We’re very excited to have the building operating after a four-and-a-half year closure and look forward to a grand opening in early 2018,” said Lauren Ingalls, CAO of Westwinds Communities.
Joyce Peterson, manager at Medicine Tree Manor, said returning home has been “just tremendous.”
She said even watching moving companies bring people to the manor was heartwarming. One truck would pull in and movers would help out on the truck ahead of them before pulling forward and unloading themselves, she said.
Not many residents from the 100-suite manor who lived there before the flood returned, she said. Only 16 people who had previously lived at Medicine Tree Manor came home, and she said watching them come in was emotional.
“They just kind of walk in and you can almost see the tears in their eyes, and they’re saying, ‘Joyce, we’re home. We’re finally home. We have waited so long to come home, thank you,’” said Peterson. “I feel like I’m almost on the verge of tears with them too, because for me it’s been four years of bringing these people home.”
She said those who returned had been housed mostly at Sunrise Village in High River, with one from The Heartland in Okotoks and one from a lodge in Calgary. Others decided to stay where they were, unwilling or unable to make another move, she said.
Others chose to stay where they are because they’d been placed in supportive living facilities closer to family, she said.
“When we placed them in individual lodges after the flood, we placed them in areas where there was family,” said Peterson. “If you had family in Didsbury and you wanted to go to Didsbury, we’d make it happen. That’s why they’re kind of scattered all over the place.”
She said the past four years have been a challenge, but with such a worthwhile light at the end of the tunnel they were some of the better years of her life. It was satisfying every time progress was made in returning residents to their home, she said.
Medicine Tree Manor is nearly full, but those looking for supportive living housing can apply at www.westwindscommunities.ca, she said. The site will show availability in High River, but also at Sandstone Lodge in Okotoks and High Country Lodge in Black Diamond, she said.
For more information, contact Medicine Tree Manor at 403-652-7040.