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New location mulled for seniors' care facility after Oak Bay rejection

Dec 02 2011

Vancouver Island Health Authority will consider a new location to build a seniors' complex care facility after Oak Bay council voted down variances needed for an $80-million redevelopment of Oak Bay Lodge.

Howard Waldner, VIHA's president and chief executive officer, said the board has asked the health authority "to come up with Plan B."

Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders said there is more than one perfect spot for it on the West Shore. He is lobbying the health authority and the Capital Regional District to consider building the 320-bed development in the more accessible West Shore, rather than on Cadboro Bay Road, where Oak Bay Lodge is situated.

Colwood and Langford have land already zoned appropriately for the new complex care facility that VIHA said is needed in the region, Saunders said, pointing to a chunk of empty land on Wilfert Road that has views of the Galloping Goose and Millstream Creek and is close to Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre.

"It would be a much better site and project than what was proposed for the Oak Bay Lodge site," Saunders said.

He has sent information about it to both VIHA and the CRD but has heard nothing definitive back yet.

Just where the facility will provide complex care for seniors and help for those with dementia is up in the air after Oak Bay council, in a split decision, voted against approving variances needed for the project to proceed at the Oak Bay Lodge site. The main concerns at the Nov. 21 meeting were lack of time for consultation and that the proposed six-storey building was too large.

VIHA owns the land and the Baptist Housing Society won the contract to operate it. Each would have provided $40 million. To get funding, Baptist Housing had to have project approval by Dec. 31.

"We made an application and we made it very clear what our needs were at that facility," Waldner said in an interview. "Oak Bay council considered this over six months and many meetings, and determined they did not want that in their community in the shape, size and form that it was being proposed. So now we are going to have to look to provide that level of care — because we have more need than we have space — somewhere else."

VIHA will talk to its partners — the Capital Regional District and Baptist Housing — "and together we will see what we can do to find a new location to construct this new facility."

Waldner said VIHA is "taking a step back and hope in a month or so to be able to confirm what our steps will be."

Oak Bay mayor-elect Nils Jensen, who voted against approving the variances, said he and outgoing Mayor Christopher Causton have a meeting Monday with Howard Johnson, the chief executive officer of Baptist Housing.

"We want to start trying to rebuild the bridges and see what the road ahead holds for Baptist Housing and Oak Bay working together," Jensen said.

But Saunders said it would be unfair for the regional district or VIHA to reduce the number of beds or what is needed to appease neighbours in Oak Bay. "It would be completely unfair for the CRD and VIHA to now change the goalposts to accommodate the "no" vote on Oak Bay council and change the project to suit them," Saunders said.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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