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Lots of location possibilities for multi-million dollar Oak Bay Lodge replacement

Jul 10 2012

The twice-frustrated plan to replace Oak Bay Lodge with a 320-bed, $80-million facility for seniors is drawing considerable interest from other Greater Victoria municipalities.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority tried twice to get a building variance for the proposed six storey, complex-care facility on Cadboro Bay Road, but it was shot down by Oak Bay council both times, most recently on June 27.

Oak Bay councillors had a difficult time approving a building higher than the existing five storeys and opposed reducing the number of parking spaces from the existing 320 to 109.

The health authority is now looking for another location, sparking a competition among Victoria, Saanich, Colwood and Langford. What will happen to the existing Oak Bay Lodge hasn't been decided.

"I know my colleagues in the West Shore communities are jumping pretty high," Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said.

Leonard said he would like to see another seniors' care facility in east Saanich, which could service many of the same people currently in Oak Bay Lodge.

No explicit plans have been made, but Leonard said his council would work with developers and VIHA to make the project happen in his community.

Colwood has a site picked out for the facility with proper zoning and has sent an outline of its plans to the health authority.

Setting up in the West Shore would cater to many of the young families who want their loved ones close to home, Mayor Carol Hamilton said.

"There's a real need for that kind of opportunity in the West Shore. There isn't much to offer for senior care," she said.

Langford and Victoria councils have not officially pitched sites in their communities, but politicians say they would be interested in working with any organization that wants to make a proposal.

"We would welcome a facility such as that because we want to make sure we have a community that has a future in it for everyone to enjoy," Langford Coun. Lillian Szpak said.

"It would be a nice fit for Langford, if we can find a place for it and find a developer to work with."

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin echoed those comments, saying his council will do whatever it can to attract the facility.

The health authority was working with Baptist Housing to replace the 247-bed Oak Bay Lodge because the facility no longer meets provincial standards, which include regulations that set room sizes and the number of bathrooms.

In its proposal, Baptist Housing said the new building, with a "home-like environment," could not be smaller because the region is already short of care beds.

It said even though Oak Bay's bylaw requires one parking stall per bed, reducing the number of stalls made sense because residents typically do not have cars.

The contract with Baptist Housing was awarded in a joint request for proposals two years ago when the health authority set out to also replace the facility at Mount Tolmie Hospital in Saanich.

Mount Tolmie is moving ahead.

The health authority estimates it will ask for new proposals for replacing Oak Bay Lodge in about two months.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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