Editorial: Time to think about the future of Oak Bay Lodge

Community needs to consider what will become of the property once the facility is closed

While the transfer of the current Oak Bay Lodge property from Island Health to Capital Regional Hospital District hands won’t happen for a few years, the extended lead time allows ample opportunity for the community to think about what might make the most sense for the  land.

The lodge is expected to continue operating until 2019 or 2020, its closure coinciding with the opening of the new 320-bed facility in Victoria.

In the meantime, the Capital Regional District will work with Oak Bay council to develop ideas for the land. It has been suggested the building isn’t suitable for repurposing, meaning a “clean slate” for ideas.

The guiding stipulation is the rather undefined covenant that the land be used for “the public good.”

Among the ideas that have been floated is a seniors’ wellness centre, possibly incorporating some kind of affordable housing.  In addition to supporting the suggestions of B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie, the move would also reflect the needs of the community.

According to the draft of Oak Bay’s Age Friendly Action Plan, 2011 Census numbers indicate the proportion of residents age 65-plus is 27.8 per cent in Oak Bay, compared to 15.7 per cent in Greater Victoria.

The needs of the district’s older population are well-served by facilities like the Monterey Centre and Oak Bay Rec Centre, but more is needed to help residents continue to live in their own community as they age.

Challenges identified in the draft plan include issues related to walkability, efficient transit, availability of affordable, appropriate housing, and access to support services and health care, for example.

How the Oak Bay Lodge property will evolve remains to be determined, but the community should take the time allowed to think about what it would like to see, and how “the public good” would best be served.

We look forward to the discussion.