Other municipalities begin to court VIHA after Oak Bay Lodge decision

Greater Victoria area politicians are chasing a plan rejected by Oak Bay council.

Greater Victoria area politicians are chasing a plan rejected by Oak Bay council.

At a July 3 meeting, Central Saanich council agreed unanimously to open the lines of communication between the municipality and the Vancouver Island Health Authority. The motion came after Oak Bay council turned down Baptist Housing and VIHA’s application to replace the aging Oak Bay Lodge extended care home with a newer, larger facility.

“I was listening to CFAX last week and I heard the CEO of VIHA talking about how they were going to be looking for a new location for the extended care facility,” said Central Saanich Coun. Adam Olsen. “I took the opportunity on Monday (July 3) to put a motion forward that council write a letter, just to see how we might be able to work with them.”

Politicians in other municipalities have also expressed an interest in hosting a new extended care home.

“Certainly it’s something we expected,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. “As I said on the night of our meeting, our community wants to continue to work with VIHA to make sure there is a medical facility there to support seniors and others in our community – not just Oak Bay, but the community at large.”

Jensen said Oak Bay council will be proactive in trying to create a use for the Oak Bay Lodge.

“That facility can be renovated and reused as independent living, assisted living or senior day care,” said Jensen. “I’ve asked council to begin to work on trying to create a coalition with VIHA and the Oak Bay Municipality to see what the best use of that facility can be.

“Some people I’ve spoken to, architects and engineers, have given the view that the facility is well worth saving and can be renovated at a significantly lower cost than rebuilding it.”

Jensen continues to stand by the idea that Oak Bay residents should have been brought into the discussion with VIHA earlier in the process. “There should have been better community involvement at the outset. … Before the RFP (request for proposals), that would have avoided all the angst.”

Olsen said his main goal was to simply open communication between Central Saanich and VIHA.

“If they’re interested, we want to let them know that there may or may not be an opportunity to engage with us out here on the Peninsula,” said Olsen. “There are many communities that they could move to, but we wanted to voice our collective desire to engage with them and see where it could go.”