Robert Jarvis is a senior support care worker at Cedar Grove, a supportive housing complex run by the Cool Aid Society. The site is due for a massive renovation, but construction can’t start until the 22 residents have somewhere to go. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Cool Aid struggles to find temporary housing for Cedar Grove residents

Renovations can’t start at 210 Gorge Rd. E. until homes are found

On the corner of Gorge Road East and Caroll Street are two old, blue buildings that used to be a motel. They now serve as Cedar Grove, a 22-unit supportive housing complex for Victoria’s Cool Aid Society that will soon receive a $17.5 million renovation.

While funding and rezoning applications are still being processed, the society says the largest obstacle to get shovels in the ground goes beyond paperwork.

“The thing that will slow us down before money is being able to find a suitable location for our 22 tenants,” said Alan Rycroft, community relations manager for Cool Aid. “Renovictions happen all over Victoria… but Cool Aid isn’t going to make anyone homeless.”

The renovation will transform the complex from motel remnants to a new complex of 32 supportive housing units and 50 affordable housing units.

The tenants are made up of six women and 16 men, who need varying degrees of support for issues ranging from poverty to addictions and mental health challenges. Each resident currently pays $375 per month in rent.

READ MORE: Sisters of St. Ann’s $450,000 donation will help Cool Aid build more housing

In order to keep the tenants feeling like they belong in a community, Cool Aid’s largest priority is to keep them together when they move, and because of the varied resources for low-income individuals in Victoria, the ideal location would also be near the downtown core.

“It’s really hard, because the market is tough in real estate,” Rycroft said.

While many avenues have been explored, at this point no strong contenders have come forward. Rycroft is hoping that perhaps Cool Aid could rent out an entire floor of a large building, but realizes the potential for problems are not dissimilar to those found at their current location.

The motel-style entryways into each apartment give Cool Aid little control over who goes in and out of the buildings, Rycroft said. It’s one component of the current setup that’s caused many tenants and neighbours distress.

ALSO READ: Captured in time: Cool Aid unveils photos from its 50 years of history

“It’s pretty rowdy here sometimes. Police are here constantly dealing with people, and every once in awhile there’s a bug infestation,” said Darren, a Cedar Grove resident who only wanted to provide his first name.

Darren has lived at Cedar Groves for five years on disability, and said that while he sticks to himself, he knows that most of the issues don’t actually come from residents.

“A lot of people come in here who don’t actually live here, and transfer the bugs… It’s mostly those people who cause the problems,” he said.

The new design is slated to have a single entryway that requires people to be buzzed in. This would also help senior supportive housing worker Robert Jarvis keep track of the activity at Cedar Grove.

“We’re trying to give people the privacy they want, but at the same time monitor what’s going on,” Jarvis said. “It has its challenges.”

Once a new, temporary home has been established for Cedar Grove residents, Cool Aid will pay for the move, maintain their current rent rate and give tenants priority for the right to refusal once the new facility is ready. Tenants will also continue to pay the same rent in the new building.

When asked if he’d consider moving back to Cedar Groves after the two-year construction period was complete, Darren was hesitant, saying a lot could happen in two years.

ALSO READ: Cool Aid’s renovated ex-hotel offers opportunities, more living space

“It’s an option, but I don’t know if I’ll be in a position to move again when that time comes around,” he said. “But, I’d definitely look into it.”

Cedar Grove is still in the approval process, but has received funding from some levels of government, as well as a private $450,000 donation from the Sisters of Saint Ann’s. On Thursday, the City of Victoria voted to put $600,000 toward the proposed 50 affordable housing units with a caveat that all zoning applications must be approved before funding is received.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

School strike: SD63 says grade 12 students ‘will not lose their graduation year’

Parents, students concerned about educational impact of CUPE 441 strike

Cineplex to show free holiday movies to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Community Day will be on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at select theatres

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s second steel shipment arrives safely

The GVHA’s original shipment was lost at sea in December 2018

VicPD arrest one person after alleged assault in Victoria

Officers responded to the 1000-block of Pandora on Tuesday

Victoria police pilot e-tickets for its traffic division

Digitized tickets can now be paid for online

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Woman airlifted with serious injuries after being struck by car in Nanaimo

Woman, hit in crosswalk, suffers life-threatening injuries; driver co-operating with police

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

Most Read