Saanich approves Mount View’s 260-bed senior care facility

"It may be the most unique site in the province, to have that much public good accomplished on one site," Mayor Frank Leonard said. When completed, the campus will include affordable family housing, low-income seniors housing and independent seniors apartments.

One of the largest pieces of the six-tiered puzzle that is the Mount View Campus of Care came together this week.

On Monday night, Saanich council approved the development permit for a 260-unit, seven-storey senior care facility.

“It may be the most unique site in the province, to have that much public good accomplished on one site,” Mayor Frank Leonard said. When completed, the campus will include affordable family housing, low-income seniors housing and independent seniors apartments.

But on Monday, the permit application was met with vocal opposition by a small group of residents, including the president of the Mount View Colquitz Community Association.

“Not one person, by e-mail or verbally to me, has said in recent weeks that this seven-storey building is worth it because of the social good,” said Korene Torney, speaking on behalf of her neighbours and their association.

She acknowledged that the decisions on height and density were made two years ago, when the land at 3814 Carey Road was rezoned. On Monday, she was “resigned” to the fact that she knew her concerns would fall on deaf ears again.

“I had no expectation that that issue was going to be changed … but council needed to hear that we’ve not forgotten as a community that they disregarded our requests (to change certain aspects),” Torney said.

Leonard said council didn’t simply disregard those requests. It just made a democratic decision regarding the whole community.

“We’re fortunate in our system (of municipal politics) that there’s a podium where you get an opportunity to speak. But getting the opportunity to come and speak and have your say doesn’t mean you have your way,” he said “It means the elected members of council hear that input and make a judgment based on everything they’ve heard.”

Every councillor said the greater good of the project outweighs the concerns of the neighbourhood.

“This campus of care is the type of project you dream about, but few communities have enough space to see it come to fruition,” said Coun. Susan Brice. “We’re balancing the greater good with the community that’s having this as their neighbour.”

This isn’t a case of NIMBYism, Torney said, telling council that despite the opposition to certain elements of the project, the neighbourhood is looking forward to the new residents and the addition to the community.

But council, she says, made decisions contrary to what their decade-old local area plan says regarding density and planning, which is leading to inconsistent change, rather than the planned growth the community wants.

Council also supported, in principle, the idea that the Carey local area plan be renewed.

The 260-bed facility, built in the shape of an H, will have 20 seniors living in each of the four wings on every floor, where there will be a central kitchen and dining area. The building will also include a licensed dementia house.

The building will be operated by Baptist Housing and is a partnership between the Capital Regional District and Vancouver Island Health Authority.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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