Heat pumps for seniors project from PHC and Sustainable Gabriola

Brenda Fowler, Executive Director

People for a Healthy Community

Tuesday, January 31 2017

Hauling wood when your 30, 40, even 60 and in good health is not a problem. But as we age, and if we happen to live alone, or have a physical challenge the thought of getting the wood into the house, the kindling organized and keeping the fire safe can be a real area of stress. 

So on cold or wet days like we have had, it is tempting to do without the fire, or if we turn on the electricity we begin to worry about the costs, so we cut back on going out or buying that item from the grocery store. On Gabriola where half of us live alone, and many of us are seniors and most of us getting older, the issue of heating is actually a health issue and a housing security issue. In some cases it creates an emerging new vulnerability of not being able to stay in our homes. 

As Executive Director at People for a Healthy Community I am hearing more stories with this recurring theme. Coincidentally, PHC received a federal grant at the end of 2016 for rural and remote housing. We will use some of the funds to help people who have been caught by this years bad weather. In addition, we have approval to test a seniors heat pump pilot project. Working with Sustainable Gabriola, the Lions Club, the Community Social Worker and Island Health we have identified 5 seniors who own their own home, who are currently having difficulty managing their wood supply, and who would be willing to participate in the BC Hydro homeowners grant and the PHC followup impact survey. 

Keeping more seniors in their homes, reducing their stress, and allowing their dollars to be spent on better food or medicine is an important piece of secure housing for all on Gabriola. This program is an innovative response to the challenges of creating new housing on the island. If the project has successful outcomes we will extend the program to landlords who are renting to those on fixed incomes. Anyone interested this project please email brenda@phcgabriola.org