Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 21, 2005
Grey Nuns Centre sold for $8.7M
Aging nuns sell 1967 building to be renovated into a residence for those in need
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Grey Nuns Regional Centre, home to Pope John Paul during his 1984 Edmonton visit and a popular conference centre, will soon become a residence for people with disabilities.
Due to aging and low numbers, the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, better known as the Grey Nuns, recently sold the 175,000-square-foot facility they built in 1967 for $8.7 million to the Innovative Housing Society of Canada (IHSC), an Edmonton-based organization that provides accessible housing to people in need.
Nestled in the city's west end, the 10-acre Grey Nuns Regional Centre will be renovated to provide 190 homes for about 250 seniors, persons with disabilities, and women and children in need.
Renamed Villa Marguerite in honour of the Grey Nuns' founder, the complex will feature a swimming pool, a games room and an arts and crafts room.
Rents will fluctuate between $250 for room only, and $2,500 a month, including room, meals, housekeeping, laundry and recreational services.
Sisters staying put
But the aging Grey Nuns are not going anywhere. Some 45 sisters will continue to live at the centre under a lease agreement with new owners.
The sisters' residence will be located in the northwest corner of the complex following renovations. The new owners also agreed to preserve the centre's chapel, which will continue to be used by Ste. Anne's Parish.
"The sisters can live here for as long as they wish," Dave Haut, the IHS's CEO, told reporters at a Feb. 14 news conference.
"The Grey Nuns will continue to have input and influence (in the operation of Villa Marguerite)."
IHS will spend about $7 million renovating the centre, including $4 million upgrading the sisters' unit.
The housing complex is expected to open in September.
Sister Aurora Larkin, general superior of the Grey Nuns, said the congregation decided to sell the centre because the sisters are aging and there is no one to replace them. The average age of the Grey Nuns living at the centre is 78.
"We wanted to entrust what we have and share it with people in need and when the IHS proposed this project we thought it was God-sent," Larkin said.
"It's a very good match for us. We will be living here and sharing with these people."
Sister Lucille Damphousse, the Grey Nuns' provincial leader, agreed.
"We were very happy to have the right organization to take over," she said at the news conference.
"I'm sure our foundress would be very pleased with this initiative."
Damphousse said the Grey Nuns will continue their involvement in pastoral ministry, hospital ministry and school ministry in Edmonton and other areas.
The food bank, which the sisters operated at the centre for the past eight years, will also continue, but from a different location.
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