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Leading innovation to allow residents to remain within our community

Introducing Martin Van Osch, the president of the South East Community Services Co-operative (SECSC). Martin joined the SECSC board as a founding member in 2020 after being approached by East Borderland Community Housing (EBCH) seeking a renewed approach to addressing seniors housing in the region. Martin took on the task of looking at different options to develop an assisted living housing community. After researching a few options, the co-op model seemed to have the most benefit and was supported by the three founding organizations, EBCH, Piney Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Rural Municipality of Piney. Having invested the time in the research and his understanding of the need, Martin continued to support the initiative.

Martin believes the assisted living housing project is important because there is an older demographic in the region. Understanding that many residents have history with the region, they return to the area after a career in other parts of the country, or some move to the area because of the affordability. Over time, people develop friendships, supports, and have family in the area. As they age, residents need more assistance to remain in the community. Although there are many supports available, a housing community suitable for residents in their time of need doesn’t currently exist and is required to allow residents to remain within the local community.

As the chief administrative officer for the RM of Piney, Martin has extensive experience on several boards including the Piney Pinecreek Border Airport, among many others. On a personal level, Martin currently serves as treasurer on the Piney Regional Chamber of Commerce board. He has a diverse background with a skill set that helps projects move forward to completion. Martin has worked in underprivileged, remote and struggling communities for most of his career. He has been able to address challenges with an innovative approach, improving services for residents, neighbours and friends.

When asked why someone should become a member of the co-op, Martin emphasized “change can only come around by becoming involved and the area can either lead innovation or be told what they are going to receive.” People need to become involved to lead the project through to completion, to help our neighbors and friends, and become part of the solution.