History of the Stoney Creek Health Association Residential Corporation


In the 1960s a group of local doctors became involved in improving the quality of life in the Stoney Creek community. These forward thinking individuals formed the Concerned Citizens Committee and pro Hospital Committee, which evolved into the East Hamilton Stoney Creek Health Association (aka The Association) in 1984. Among its many accomplishments, the Association successfully lobbied for long term care beds in the area to accommodate the growing population of east Hamilton and Stoney Creek and organized an ambulance service which is now stationed in east Hamilton.

The Health Sciences building on Mountain Ave. S. was established in Stoney Creek in 1970 with the help of the Association and health professionals including Dr. Ed. Janack, Dr. Marshall Capel and Dr. Bob Kemp. The Association went on to build the St. Joseph’s Community Health Centre (now known as St. Joseph’s Health Care King Campus) and the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice, which provides palliative care for the terminally ill.

Next came the idea for a seniors’ residence where, close to all amenities, seniors could enjoy their lives without ever moving again. In 1993 the desire for this type of community resulted in the formation of the Stoney Creek Health Association Residential Corporation and in 1997 the Sara Calder Suites at the Olde Towne Centre were completed. Groundbreaking for the second building, The James Lee Suites, took place on June 25, 2001 and the first group of residents moved in to their new home in September 2002. The James Lee Suites is now operated by the Stoney Creek Health Association Residential Corporation, Phase II. “We wanted a place where seniors could live out their lives, close to friends, in an environment in which they were comfortable” said Helen Hore, who lives in the Sara Calder Suites.

The Association’s philosophy is people who have a sense of security, independence and a network of social support live longer and more productive lives. “Whether you’re 55 or approaching 90, if you like community living, peace and quiet in a small community which is developing and growing old together, this is what we’re all about”, said Dennis Wilson of Rice/Wilson & Associates, the consultants overseeing the project. “Our concept builds on the inherent value of internal support systems and services for a long and fulfilling life. Aging with dignity means aging with your peers, in the community with which you are familiar and surrounded by the essential services you will need. In addition, the life lease concept allows residents to have continuing control over and input in the community they helped to create said Dennis.

For Margaret McVittie, another resident of the Sara Calder Suites, being part of a community of like-minded community, free from the responsibilities of shoveling snow and gardening, is just one of the many benefits of living at the Olde Towne Centre. Another is the fact that her monthly expenses have actually decrease since she purchased her Life Lease suite. “I was renting and the cost was going up and up,” she said. “My monthly costs are now a third of what they used to be.” One reason for this is the fact that the Association is a not-for-profit corporation; it is a resource providing group composed of residents and members of the surrounding community, and cost to residents are based on the actual expense of building and maintaining the complex.

Both the Sara Calder Suites and the James Lee Suites offer residents a form of ownership known as Life Lease, a popular housing option which has been around for decades in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Life lease allows residents the best of both worlds – the freedom and security of condo living and the equity benefits of home ownership. “Life leases are a form of ownership or a bundle of rights and obligations in property that have been created to respond to the needs of a sector of the market in a way that other forms of ownership do not” said Ronald A. Crane, a Toronto barrister and solicitor. Mr. Crane continues, “A life lease arrangement is not a strange or unusual arrangement to be feared or avoided because it is different.”

The Olde Towne Centre offers more than a convenient location and a wonderful community. Suite features include five appliances, indoor ground floor parking, rooftop gardens, security and safety systems, walk in closets, ensuite bathrooms, individual furnaces with built in air conditioning, and lifestyle ease features such as easy access showers. Nestled under the escarpment, the Olde Towne Centre is for early retirees who want to be free to travel, people who want to simplify their lives due to physical limitations, or for those seeking the comfort of living in a community with like-minded people.