Timing is everything, and it is now apparent that the brain trust behind the Village at Stonebridge in Saskatoon had lousy timing.
LutherCare Communities had just finished construction of its $63.5-million senior living project in the fall of 2016 when commodity market prices went south in a hurry, turning one of Canada’s hottest economies into one of the coldest.
The Saskatoon-based project has 159 independent living suites and 27 intermediate care suites (which are suitable for single people or couples), and adjacent land is expected to be the site for 200 long-term care homes sometime next year.
Since cutting the ribbon, occupancy has struggled to make it to half-full. But LutherCare Communities CEO Vivienne Hauck believes that higher prices for oil and potash will mean good economic times are right around the corner.
“We couldn’t control commodity prices. What happened in the oil industry had a trickle-down effect. We were just finishing construction when that hit,” she said.
Compounding the challenge is that the local housing market followed commodities down and it’s still struggling to recover. Some potential residents of the Village haven’t been able to make the move because they’ve been unable to sell their houses, she said.
The Village isn’t suffering for retail, with such well-known names as PharmaSave, Tim Hortons and Pizza Hut operating alongside Affinity Credit Union, more than 40 health-care providers and a public library.
“We would like to be at least 50 or 60 per cent occupancy by next spring, then we’ll start to generate a profit,” Hauck said