Construction on AVENS seniors facility in Yellowknife beginning this month –

Construction for AVENS Pavillion, a 102-unit seniors facility, is set to begin early this month after a development appeal made by a group of 14 neighbours is dismissed.

avens pavilion design

A visualization of the proposed AVENS pavilion (AVENS/City of Yellowknife)

Construction on AVENS Pavillion, a 102-unit seniors facility, is set to begin early this month after a development appeal made by a group of 14 neighbours was dismissed.

The expansion is intended to fill gaps in affordable senior housing by providing a wider range of independent and supportive housing options, and is slated to open in 2023.

Daryl Dolynny, CEO of AVENS, said this has been a long process, but he’s excited about getting the project started.

“This has always been a community-based project,” said Dolynny. “I think the one thing that I heard loud and clear in my role as CEO here was that I think everyone agreed that the need for affordable housing for seniors is great.”

Dolynny said construction has been delayed for nearly a year because of permitting issues, but “we should start seeing activity on the property as early as late this week or early next week.”

AVENS received $33.7 million from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to support the AVENS Pavilion project last October.

proposed area of avens pavilion

The proposed expansion area of the AVENS pavilion. (AVENS/City of Yellowknife)

Concerns from neighbours

The group of 14 residents neighbouring Matonabee Street started expressing concerns about the development earlier this year. They said the City of Yellowknife hasn’t considered how they’ll be impacted by the development.

Residents complained the development cast shade over some homes for much of the day, its close proximity would hinder their privacy and a narrow access lane could pose safety risks.

They also said the city’s decision-making process was biased because Councillor Niels Konge didn’t disclose his friendship with AVENS CEO Daryl Dolynny.

Every aspect of the appeal was dismissed by the City of Yellowknife Development Appeal Board in a June 25 ruling, which said the city had taken “reasonable measures to mitigate the impact on neighbouring properties.”

CBC News reached out to a number of neighbours who filed the appeal, but they declined to comment.

Dolynny said he respects some neighbours may not be happy with the process.

“We will continue to be good neighbours as we have always demonstrated,” said Dolynny. “We’ve got a duty of care, not only to them, but to all seniors and in fact, the entire community, to make sure that our commitment of providing safe and affordable housing options is there.”

Moving forward in harmony

Dolynny said he and the rest of the AVENS team is focused on moving forward, and they hope the rest of the community will join them.

“I think we’re going to go forward in harmony. I think once people see the merits, winning hearts and minds won’t be that hard.”

Dolynny said the development is a great opportunity to keep the community vibrant by keeping seniors and elders in the North. He has heard feedback from seniors saying they would stay in the area if there were options to stay close to family.

“And so with that, we know that [by] keeping seniors closer to their families, that also keeps families here as well. And keeping seniors in the North by giving them these options is definitely going to build communities,” said Dolynny.

He said he hopes this project will serve as a catalyst for other organizations to take advantage of the options they have through CMHC.

“Let’s tackle this problem together and let’s create an environment where we can be proud to be part of a community who looks after our seniors.