A local retirement home is closing its doors because of new legislation contained in the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA). Greystone Manor opened its doors as a retirement home in 2000, after Anne and Rick Kotlarchuk bought the property and renovated it in 1999. “Our family lived on the top floor and we opened our home to fourteen seniors living on the main and ground floor,” Anne remembers.
In 2007, Anne and Rick sold the 6,000 square foot home and business to Susan and Peter Luff, who have poured their heart and soul into the retirement home for the past decade. “Taking care of people is a passion for my mom,” says Natasha Luff, who came in to manage the business three years ago. “She doesn’t want to get rid of it.”
Greystone Manor is closing in part because of rising operational costs, which includes the hike in the Ontario minimum wage, but mostly because of a new regulation in the RHRA requiring them to put in a sprinkler system to protect against fires. The home already has smoke and heat detectors, as well as an air-tight evacuation plan in case of fire. However, as of January, 2019, this will no longer be enough.
Natasha says they have looked into the cost of installing the system and found that, because of the size of the home, it would cost upwards of $100,000. The age of the house (which was built in the 1800s) could also add extra costs because of the complexity of the project. “Every time we try and renovate something, it always costs more money,” Natasha says. “We can’t gouge the residents because of these sudden costs.”
There is a government grant that is available for retrofitting old homes, but it wouldn’t even cover half of the cost of putting in the sprinkler system. They have also tried to sell the business, but were not successful because of complications in the zoning and renovations required.
All of the seven residents will have to find new homes by June 1, 2018, when Greystone Manor will officially close. Natasha says their main goal moving forward is to find a new home for their residents, where they will be comfortable. Most of them would like to go to Bayfield, in order to stay in the community, however waiting lists to get in there are months long. “We are working together trying to find retirement homes in the area and time frames,” Natasha says. “I had a call today from a retirement home in Richmond.”
Greystone Manor is more than just a business for Natasha and her parents. It is a way of life. “We are very close with all the residents and their families,” Natasha says. Making the decision to close was not easy, and it is clear from the wobble in Natasha’s voice that the process is very painful for both her and her parents. It is a huge upheaval for the residents as well, some of whom have Alzheimer’s and Dementia and don’t do well with change. “It’s really tough,” Natasha says. Once the retirement home closes in June, Natasha and her parents will continue to live in the house while they figure out next steps.
As the founder of Greystone Manor, Anne Kotlarchuk says she is very sad to see it go out of business. “We don’t like to see any small business close,” she says. “We wish all the best to the Luff family. They have worked very hard to provide a wonderful service for seniors in this community for the past ten years.”