Seniors get a new home in a familiar area

New residence rises on site of Bedford Park church

Dorita Corby lives in a gorgeous two-storey home near Mount Pleasant Road and Wanless Avenue, which she believes was built
in 1933 and first owned by her late husband’s grandparents.

Visitors are greeted by a long hallway with a bright, spacious kitchen at the end. To the right is a living room where Corby sits in a rocking chair next to poinsettias and Santa Claus figurines. To the left a long staircase leads to the second floor.

That staircase is the main reason Corby, 76, plans on moving into the new Bedford Park Seniors Residence, now under construction at 100 Ranleigh Ave., on the site of Bedford Park United Church, her church family’s former home.

“I think the stairs might get onto me eventually,” Corby admits. “I’m okay right now, but I don’t know if I want to stay here with all the responsibilities of a house.”

A memory from when she joined the Bedford Park United congregation in 1965 is vivid in her mind: she recalls sitting near a pair of weeping widows who were in the process of moving into retirement centres.

“They didn’t want to leave the area and community they had built up for many years,” she says. “But one of them went to Scarborough and the other to Etobicoke because there were none around here.”

Noticing a steady decrease in membership, Corby says she and the congregation’s former minister suggested replacing the church with a seniors’ residence almost 30 years ago.

“I’ve lived in this house for 49 years,” she says. “It would be nice to stay in the area.”

Bedford Park Seniors Residence president Wendy Daniels says the current building proposal has taken seven years to begin construction.

Daniels herself has been involved for five years, ever since her mother, the church secretary, passed away.

“She really wanted to live there,” Daniels says. “It was a long journey.”

To design the new residence — a four-storey, 60-unit, 46-parking-space apartment building — the volunteer congregation board collaborated with architect Robert Reimers, who helped them submit a proposal to the city. Ward 25 councillor Jaye Robinson then led the project’s neighbourhood consultation for two years, with the congregation not only wanting a seniors’ residence, but community space as well.

“We had to work with all of the interested parties — the Toronto District School Board, all the neighbours on the back of the property,” Daniels said. “The community as a whole was very supportive of the project, but there are always going to be people who don’t like change.”

When the residence opens in 2015, programs for neighbourhood residents of all ages will be on the ground floor. Included will be chapel space for the 20-member congregation’s Sunday services. Daniels says the not-for-profit corporation running the building even plans to offer a car-sharing program.

Units will include barrier-free access, with extra wide hallways and doors, and handlebars installed in shower units. Pricing has not been released yet, but Daniels says she has been telling interested parties they will cost about $550 a square foot, plus maintenance fees.

“Life leasing” is available as an option, she says, whereby future residents make a single advance payment for the right to occupy the unit for life.

Jerry Boekema and wife Diana, who have lived in the neighbourhood for 25 years, say they look forward to moving into the new building because it will give them freedom to travel.

“It’s going to give us independence from responsibility,” he said, as Diana nodded approvingly. “Diana loves to garden, but I think it’s going to become more than we want to do.

“It couldn’t be a better location,” Diana remarked. “It’s a two-minute walk to the subway, three-minute walk to the bank, grocery store and everything we’d want… We can’t wait.”

About this article:

By: Eric Emin Wood
Posted: Dec 9 2013 1:54 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto