New Lodge project doesn’t fit

Replacement for Oak Bay Lodge could cause big headaches for the community, neighbour says

A crucial decision now facing Oak Bay council is, ironically, little known or understood: Garry Oaks Village, the redevelopment proposal of VIHA and Baptist Housing for the Oak Bay Lodge site.

Monday, Nov. 14, council must rule on three variances requested by the developer. These involve significant, not minor, changes that will alter the Oak Bay skyline and community for 60 or more years.

Baptist Housing wants to demolish the Lodge, replacing its “campus of care” with a regional, 320-bed, six-storey building offering only complex and dementia care for Greater Victoria seniors.

Their proposed highly problematic structure will: a) exceed current height bylaws by two full storeys; b) be 50 per cent larger than the current building; c) come within a very few feet of Cadboro Bay Road and Bowker Street; and d) encourage single-occupancy vehicle use by staff. It will sit on the highest piece of land in this part of Oak Bay. To imagine what a six-storey building there might look, stand in the parking lot of the Eric Martin Pavilion and look up – way up.

The developer claims the greater good of the region outweighs neighbour concerns. Would you agree if this was your neighbourhood?

Baptist Housing, since first unveiling its design in late September, has refused to provide a scale model that puts the proposed facility in perspective. The model has been requested more than once. Do they fear that to see the scale of the proposal will create more problems than it solves? Baptist Housing also won’t consider any substantive changes to building design, service delivery model, or patient density – changes that would allow the building profile to be lowered. The very minor alterations they have made to its footprint and setbacks have produced further difficulties, pitting concerns of some neighbours against those of others.

Note that Baptist Housing is a private company and this is a standard public-private partnership. In exchange for providing capital money, they get an exclusive, private operating contract for 60 years. No public access to information. They assert council must decide on these variances now, or risk losing the project because their financing plan must be completed by year-end.

If you, too, care about this sudden pressure on council (without all VIHA and Baptist Housing cards on the table) to approve a project that that is simply far too inappropriately high for the property, please write to Oak bay council, attend the council meeting on Monday, or read more about neighbourhood concerns on the Facebook page called Oak Bay Lodge Redevelopment.

Michael Hayes lives adjacent to the proposed redevelopment of Oak Bay Lodge.