In 2012, Silvera for Seniors (formerly MCF Housing for Seniors) marked 50 years of providing affordable Independent Living with a range of supports for lower-income Calgary seniors. But its history goes back even further.
In the late 1950s, former Calgary General Hospital administrator, Dr. Leonard O. Bradley, saw a need for low-cost rental retirement homes for seniors, who had to survive on “meager” pensions. With the help of a group of prominent Calgarians, plus financial support from the City of Calgary and the Calgary Lions’ Club, Bradley formed the Bow Valley Lodges Foundation. The Foundation built its first 44 senior living units in Bridgeland.
In 1959, noting the Foundation’s success, the Province introduced the Homes for the Aged Act, supporting the building of hundreds of low-cost retirement homes across Alberta.
This led to the Bow Valley Lodges Foundation being replaced by the Metropolitan Calgary Foundation (MCF) on February 19, 1962.
In 1963, Silvera opened 300 senior residences at the Jacques Lodges off Bow Trail, receiving 800 applications in the first year. As time went on, Silvera built more seniors’ housing sites and expanded its services, adding Supportive Living lodges.
Under Independent Living, seniors lived in cottage units and townhouses and had to be able to take care of their own needs, like cooking and cleaning, as well as furnish their own units. In the lodges, they were provided with meals and light housecleaning services.
Silvera partnered with the Province and City of Calgary to manage a number of seniors’ residences, opening its affordable housing model to even more Calgary seniors.
Through booms and busts, Silvera has always been able to provide quality residential and support services for seniors, while developing new senior communities such as The Westview and Willow Park on the Bow.
The Westview offered accommodation at market rates and helped to subsidize the affordable portion of Silvera’s portfolio. New Supportive Living communities were built in 1999-2000 – Aspen Lodge and Spruce Lodge. And Willow Park on the Bow was opened in 2010 as a 150-suite integrated Independent Living residence with available support services to allow aging-in-place, a first for lower-income Calgary seniors.
Silvera continues to develop new programming to reflect the needs of its residents:
- The award-winning Community Resource Program helps connect seniors with services and programs;
- The Memory Care Program at Beaverdam community supports residents with mild to moderate dementia;
- The Mobility Support Program at Shawnessy community helps those with physical challenges enjoy a higher quality of life; and
- Activity programming helps make life fun and enjoyable for seniors across Silvera’s communities.
In 2012 as part of the organization’s 50th anniversary, MCF Housing for Seniors changed its name to Silvera for Seniors. The name signifies the Silver Era – the start of a new generation.
We also changed how we refer to our housing. Gone are outdated terms like “lodges” and “residences” – now, they are all Silvera Communities.
And Silvera has renewed its pledge to be a strong voice advocating for seniors on issues that matter to them.
Some believe that moving into a seniors’ community marks the end of life, but we believe it simply marks the start of a new era – the Silvera Generation.