Over the last thirty years, the way people live out their
retirement has changed. Just ask Joe Ger, Founder and CEO of
Toronto-based Retirement Life Communities: "The language
has changed. The perception has changed and the environment
Where once builders produced retirement residences that were
sterile and devoid of personality, Ger has responded to these
changes by building retirement properties that are communities
where people want to spend their time and enjoy days filled with
interactions and activities.
Ger explains, "Like a good tailor making clothing to fit
you exactly... that's where we're going with our
communities. I build them from scratch. We buy land, we build them,
we get them up and running, we stabilize them and we sell them to
Ger sees Retirement Life Communities, or RLC for short, as a
wholesaler servicing two markets. "We build these communities
for the residents and we create the financial environment that they
operate in, and then someone else who wants to own it forever
agrees it's a model that works. It's a stamp of approval
for our interpretation of what the market wants... both our
He adds that RLC is a producer of retirement communities, not a
long-term operator. He explains that they have their own brand and
philosophy, and embed their operating standards so when the next
owner takes over, it's turn-key.
Because the face of retirement is changing, retirees are looking
to move into a community with various amenities and options. Ger
understands this. He says the emphasis is on providing options:
"What we strive to deliver is a continuum of care within the
retirement community. At one end, there's fully independent
housing. You can own a unit or you can rent it; a unit with a
kitchen, living room, etc. It's either a condo or apartment, a
home within a community; that's the only difference at the
independent end. At the other end is assisted living where
you've reached a point you're trading space for care. Now
the care component comes into play and it is a much more
significant piece of the lifestyle for these individuals, because
they require support in order to carry on. The philosophy that we
operate in is that we provide just the right amount of support the
individual requires. The rest is up to them and we encourage their
independence to the degree that they can live safely and enjoy
Over the last twenty-seven years, RLC has produced and sold
approximately twenty-three facilities Current RLC communities are
in Cobourg, Goderich, and soon to be in Orillia.
What is Next for RLC?
Recently, RLC began work on a memory care model in response to
the growing issue of memory loss. "We're calling it our
harmony wings or our harmony components within the retirement
communities." While many harmony wings residents tend to be physically healthy, their
memory loss makes it difficult for them to function
Harmony wings fill the gap by dealing with their loss of memory
and independence in a way that keeps them safe, preserving their
quality of life and dignity. While it is an institutional
environment, RLC has chosen to outfit them in an elegant and
comforting home like environment. And, if only one member of a
retired couple suffers from memory loss, having them in a harmony
wing takes the pressure off the other spouse to provide specialized
support around the clock.
In 2016, RLC will open its first facility exclusively for
memory-challenged individuals in Orillia, with 54 units.
Ger is also looking at other housing options for his
communities. He explains, "Our model encompasses thefull range
of housing. We have not yet engaged in the development of an actual
low rise community like attached homes or single-floor townhouses,
so that may be a possibility. It's certainly one that intrigues
me." Ger says for now though, his focus is on the memory care
Eight years ago his son Daniel joined RLC. Ger says,
"It's about an evolution of a company. It's about
transitioning to the next generation. So the view is that while
I'm the founder, the company has legs because Daniel is the
Ger is excited for what is next and has no plans to spend his
days golfing anytime soon.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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