Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield
The Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield began in 2017 as a vision of the society’s first board president and Lakefield resident Dewi Jones. Dewi was looking for suitable retirement accommodation for a family member in Wales and during his research he found the Abbeyfield House concept, with many long established houses in the UK and worldwide. This unique establishment triggered the possibility of forming an Abbeyfield Society in the Village of Lakefield with the goal of establishing an Abbeyfield House. Dewi organized a public meeting to discuss the idea, which was well received at the meeting.
The Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2019. The next step was to look for a suitable piece of land within the village. This proved to be difficult since the village has a population of only about 2,500 but Dewi’s vision attracted local businessman Ron Black who joined the Abbeyfield Lakefield board in 2019. With experience in land development and property management, Ron helped approach the local municipality asking for a land donation. The municipal council rejected the request, but due to the media coverage generated by the council’s rejection, a local family came forward with an offer to sell their four-acre property that includes a house. The family offered favourable terms of sale and Abbeyfield Lakefield was able to acquire the money needed for purchase through a Community Futures loan for 70 per cent of the total cost and 15 private investors who were willing to lend the remaining 30 per cent needed.
Board members and volunteers cleaned and completed minor renovations to the house, which is now rented and providing income to cover mortgage payments. The Abbeyfield Lakefield board acquired funding to complete the planning required for a rezoning application. The final plan foresees severing the land and selling the existing house and using 3.5 acres to develop a custom-built Abbeyfield House of 16 units with building starting in the spring of 2023.
To better educate local residents about the Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield, a Walk a Thon event was held in September 2021 with about 50 participants and approximately $3,500 was raised in donations. The society has created a website – abbeyfieldlakefield.ca – and is active on social media.