More public input wanted on Oak Bay Lodge redevelopment

June 19 meeting final chance for all residents to add their opinions

After more consultation regarding Baptist Housing Society’s plans to redevelop the Oak Bay Lodge, residents will get another chance to ask questions and tell council how they feel about the changes at a public meeting next Tuesday (June 19).

“My primary concern is around the process,” said Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney. “Making sure the entire community is well-engaged and well-informed.”

Focus Consulting group set up information stations May 30 at Oak Bay Recreation Centre, and in Estevan Village, and at the Monterey rec centre and municipal hall on May 31. They also held two community input events on June 5 and 6. The meeting on June 19 at 7 p.m. at the Monterey Recreation Centre will be the final opportunity for the public to speak out on the project before Oak Bay council makes its decision on the variance requests on June 27.

“We are hearing from people who live in the immediate vicinity (of the lodge), but I’m concerned that the larger community is not apprised of what’s going on,” said Ney, who noted she has not made her final decision on the project yet.

VIHA and Baptist Housing want to redevelop the Oak Bay Lodge into a 320-bed facility to house seniors with dementia. The new building would be higher than currently allowed under zoning bylaws and would include fewer parking spaces than required for the size of the development.

Baptist Housing Society won the request for proposals from VIHA in 2009. The original request was to address the growing need for residential care beds for Greater Victoria’s aging population and to replace existing beds in existing facilities, including 247 beds at Oak Bay Lodge and 73 beds at Mt. Tolmie Hospital for a total of 320 beds. The Oak Bay site is already zoned for residential care.

“We’ve already turned it down one time because we felt there was not enough consultation,” Ney said.

The variance requests were rejected by previous Oak Bay council in November 2011. Baptist Housing resubmitted the same application for variance requests in January 2012 to the new council.

“Most people think that if the application is turned down all senior’s care (in Oak Bay) will be taken away, that we’ll lose a very important resource,” said Ney. “That decision has not been made yet.”

She is concerned that people may be unaware that the new lodge will cater to those who require a higher degree of care, different from what is currently offered at the lodge. “It’s a level of care that’s needed in the region,” she said, pointing out there will be no tax revenue from the proposed facility to the municipality.

“The onus is on Oak Bay to play its part in the region,” Ney said. “(However) it’s a big decision for the community in terms of what that means and I don’t feel that people have been engaged enough. If people feel it’s OK, they have to come forward and say that. A better-informed decision is a healthier decision.”

More information about the Oak Bay Lodge redevelopment is available at the municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave., and online at focusprojects.ca/oak-bay. The Tuesday night meeting is open to all Greater Victoria residents.

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