Oak Bay Lodge project moving forward

Design for potential replacement facility revealed to council

The primary proponent to assume management of a replacement for Oak Bay Lodge has unveiled plans for a new six-storey care facility on the current site.

Baptist Housing has an agreement with the Vancouver Island Health Authority to operate the new facility and a deal for the transfer of land from VIHA to the Capital Regional District is in place.

Both agreements are awaiting approval from the provincial government.

Nevertheless, the housing provider has contracted Patrick Cotter Architects to work on a design. The proposed 320-bed facility, tentatively named Garry Oaks, would have space for dementia care and residential living, but not independent living, which is a feature of the current Oak Bay Lodge.

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton likes what he’s seen of the design so far.

“Early indications are that it’s a really good change,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for us as a community to get a completely new building. I think we’re incredibly lucky.”

In 2009 VIHA announced plans to close Oak Bay Lodge and Mount Tolmie Hospital in Saanich and replace them with one facility. Since then, the future of the two seniors’ residences has taken a number of twists and turns.

The CRD made an offer to purchase the Oak Bay Lodge lands in March of this year, but that purchase is still awaiting the go-ahead from the province. While progress is being made on the fate of Oak Bay Lodge, what will happen to Mount Tolmie remains up in the air.

“Hopefully by early October there will be a government announcement,” said VIHA spokesperson Shannon Marshall. “Everything now hinges on provincial government approval.”

Baptist Housing already runs three facilities in Oak Bay, all of which are just a few blocks from the proposed development.

Shannon Oaks is an independent living residence, while  Marrion Village provides assisted living facilities as well as subsidized rental housing.

Elgin Gardens is exclusively made up of subsidized units.

The new facility would fill a gap in the seniors’ housing community, said Baptist Housing spokesperson Deanna Bogart.

“We have identified that need for care,” she said.

Building on the current Oak Bay Lodge site will mean finding alternate accommodations for its current tenants, who will need somewhere to live during construction.

VIHA has said no resident would be left without housing as a result of construction.

Baptist Housing CEO Howard Johnson said while responsibility for relocating residents lies with VIHA, his organization will work with the health authority to try to ensure Oak Bay Lodge residents remain in the municipality.

Baptist Housing will present the Garry Oaks design again at the Sept. 12 council meeting. They’re also tentatively planning an open house for sometime this month – Sept. 17 is the proposed date – which will allow members of the community to give their input on the design.

editor@oakbaynews.com