Madawan Lodge

The Long Path To an Aboriginal Seniors Residence
As the urban Aboriginal population grows, so does the number of older individuals who chose, because of family ties and services, to remain in the city. Recognizing the need to address housing for Aboriginal seniors, Gignul had, for over a decade, dedicated efforts to establish an Aboriginal seniors lodge in the City of Ottawa.

The concept was first raised in 1990 at a planning session of Gignul’s Board of Directors and staff. In 1996, at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Training Forum in Windsor, Gignul’s President Jim Lanigan announced efforts to redevelop one of its properties as a seniors lodge. These efforts could not proceed due to lack of capital funding. However, the commitment prevailed.

It wasn’t until the fall of 1999, with a homelessness crisis in the City and winter looming that the opportunity arrived. An area philanthropist dedicated funds to the Ottawa Community Foundation to combat homelessness in the city. The donor stipulated that these funds respond to the critical state of homelessness among Aboriginal people. An agent of the Foundation invited Gignul to host a meeting of local Aboriginal service providers in September 1999 to launch a call for proposals and to determine the homelessness priorities of the Aboriginal community.

Gignul hosted the meeting, inviting representatives of the Aboriginal Women’s Support Centre, and Pinganodin Lodge, a transitional house for Aboriginal men, to the table. This collective agreed on the ranking of local Aboriginal priorities, as follows:

• Support to purchase a service facility for Aboriginal women in distress;
• An Aboriginal seniors residence; and
• A transitional residence for homeless Aboriginal men and youth.

At long last, Gignul’s dream of an Aboriginal seniors residence seemed to be within grasp.

The Seniors Lodge Concept
Gignul believed two important objectives could be achieved by the development of a seniors lodge.

• The first objective responded to the Ottawa homelessness crisis and the need to create affordable shelter for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless.
• The second achieved affordable rental accommodation for Aboriginal seniors.

The seniors lodge concept included acquiring and renovating an existing apartment complex. The building would feature units adapted to accommodate seniors with physical disabilities; a common area where seniors could meet and socialize; laundry facilities; a generous outdoor area for enjoyment and gardening; and most importantly, affordable rents, in a supportive and culturally sensitive environment.

Gignul’s Professional Partners
To ensure a professional and quality business development proposal, Devine and Associates was engaged as a consultant to the project. The firm of Christopher Simmonds Architect was brought on board to provide architectural and technical advice in securing and renovating the proposed seniors residence.

During this process a number of sites where assessed, with 388 Carmen Street being considered the most suitable. Following a technical review and assessment of the building, the architect was engaged to prepare architectural plans, drawings and cost estimates necessary to undertake renovations. It was planned that donor support would account for seventy-five per cent of the project costs with mortgage financing making up the remaining twenty-five percent. At the November 18, 1999 Board of Directors meeting, a motion was passed approving the Project Team to more forward.

Gignul’s Funding Partners
Thanks to the Ottawa Community Foundation’s early capital commitment to the project, other potential funding partners were more willing to support the seniors lodge. Other funding sources included:

• The City of Ottawa, which supported the “soft” costs of project development;

• Kagita Mikam, an Aboriginal Human Resources Development Area Management Board, which provided additional capital funding;

• Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP), which supported physical upgrades and disabled-access costs; and

• Gignul’s own contribution to the project, through securing mortgage financing to cover the remaining costs of the project.

The Development Process
In March, Gignul’s Board of Directors approved a conditional offer to purchase a twelve- unit apartment building located at 388 Carmen Street in Vanier, with a July 31st closing date. The funding support enabled acquisition of the building and redevelopment for eleven seniors units. Major renovations included replacing windows, upgrading plumbing and electrical services, the installation of a lift, as well as important safety upgrades. In addition, a common room was added for seniors activities and health out reach services; exterior ramping, improved security, etc.

The Building Committee
With ownership secured, the Board of Directors approved the creation of a Building Committee to guide and provide technical support and advice to the project and report to the Board on progress. The Committee was chaired by Jim Lanigan, Gignul President and included Charlie Hill, Gignul Vice President; Roy Jacobs, Gignul Executive Director; and Terry Conroy, Maintenance Supervisor. George Devine (Devine & Associates), and Christopher Simmonds, (Christopher Simmonds Architect) provided professional and technical support on the Building Committee.

The first task of the Building Committee was to make a decision as to proceed with a construction manager, or a general contractor. The construction manager approach was determined to be the most feasible as it offered the Committee greater control over the costs of the project. In the interests of time, an invitational tender process was utilized. Three bids for the construction management contract were received. The Building Committee recommended Construction Premiere for fixed price contract. The recommendation was approved by Gignul’s Board and the contract was officially signed on February 15, 2001.

Additional Benefits to the Aboriginal Community
As noted above, Gignul was committed to relocating seniors from its existing rent geared to income units to Madawan Lodge, thereby freeing up these units for families on its waiting list. Six senior tenant households were relocated, creating the opportunity to provide affordable units to an equal number of needy households.

Despite lack of specific funding for the common room within the overall project funding, Gignul remained committed to the common room. With additional support from Kagita Mikam, the common room was opened shortly after official occupancy and has become a resource for other Aboriginal service providers. The common room provides an ideal location for not only socializing among the tenants but provides an important venue to access Aboriginal senior support services. A Grand Mothers’ circle has been formed and meets in regularly in the common room.

Gignul’s Board of Directors Wishes to Thank:
Barbara McInnis, Paul Laberge of The Ottawa Community Foundation
Velma Hill-Dracup and Carolyn McDonald of Kagita Mikam
The Homelessness Initiative Team of the former Regional Municipality
Julie McCann and senior staff of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Norbert Koeck of Blue Heron Building Inspection Services
Bank of Nova Scotia
George Devine of Devine & Associates
Christopher Simmonds and Kristina Leaning of Christopher Simmonds Architects
Premier Construction

And from the Ottawa Aboriginal community:

Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health
Odawa Friendship Centre
Odawa Long Life Care Program
Aboriginal Womens Support Centre
Pinganodin Lodge

And without whose dedication and support Madawan Lodge would not flourish, Gignul staff


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