St. Laurent is a small community on the east shore of Lake Manitoba approximately 70 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. The area has always been in need of a better health care facility, which the community has been actively pursuing since 1982.
Recognizing this need and desire for such a facility, Community Futures West Interlake provided funding for the initial feasibility study which proved to be the catalyst for what is now the St. Laurent Assisted Living Centre and Community Health Centre.
Community Futures West Interlake was also instrumental in the formation of the St. Laurent Community Development Corporation, which was incorporated in 1998. Ultimately this CDC, working on behalf of the St. Laurent community, was the key to making this project a reality.
First, the vacant Franciscaines Missionnaires Srs de Marie convent, situated in St. Laurent with an estimated value of $140,000, was purchased by the Community Development Corporation for $40,000. The additional $100,000 was donated by the Franciscaines Missionnaires Srs de Marie Sisters Monastery. The centre had the support of the entire municipality and many local organizations held fundraising events to assist with on-going costs.
The vacated convent was renovated to house four Level 1 & 2 home care suites and one respite suite on the main floor. The centre is the first of its kind in Manitoba. It is unique in that it offers a new transition level for seniors, allowing them to stay in their home community while still receiving the care and attention they need. Further, it delays a move to a large institution elsewhere.
In addition to the housing component, the Interlake Regional Health Authority (IRHA) is leasing the lower level and will operate a clinic that will offer a family medical practice, space for public health, physiotherapy and IRHA office space. A number of government and private grants have provided for renovations to the upper level, which were estimated to cost in excess of $250,000. Local trades people and labourers were hired for the renovation, giving employment to area residents for the duration of the project.
Renovations began mid-summer in 1999 and the community of St. Laurent was able to celebrate the official opening of the centre in September of 2001. Ongoing employment at the facility translates into 7.5 permanent new jobs on the upper level, with another 1.5 positions expected for the lower level. This project is a success because it has shown that when a community comes together they can make a dream become a reality. The vision and efforts of organizations like Community Futures West Interlake and the St. Laurent CDC continue to prove this true.