In terms of representing their electorate, it’s no surprise that Oak Bay council turned down a proposal to replace Oak Bay Lodge with a much larger facility that would cater to dementia patients.
They could not, as a group, go against the wishes of the people they serve, many of whom wanted more opportunity to give input on the form and design of the buildings.
While the facility is seen by many in the municipality as a community home for local seniors unable to live independently, Oak Bay Lodge does not cater solely to the community of Oak Bay. It attracts residents from across the Capital Region and as such is a regional facility.
The proposed Garry Oak Village may have been larger and more imposing than the Lodge, but it was also to be a purpose-built facility designed to accommodate residents requiring complex care and those suffering from dementia, a condition that is on the rise among seniors in British Columbia.
The timing of the decision was unfortunate. The outgoing council, at the very end of its mandate, felt forced to make a quick decision on whether to grant a zoning variance for the project, given the emphasized time and funding constraints of developer/operator Baptist Housing.
Tabling the decision – in essence leaving it for the incoming council – could have allowed for more discussion on the form of the buildings and perhaps the type of care offered at the new facility, between community members, Baptist Housing and the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which would oversee the operations.
Now VIHA, charged by the province with determining the best use of resources and the geography of patient care in this region, has been sent back to the drawing board to figure out how to improve eldercare in Greater Victoria. This project was a large piece of that puzzle. We hope it’s not too late to get the discussions going again.