It’s another step forward for the Cowichan Lake Elder Care Society’s affordable senior’s housing project, Lakewood Manor.
At Tuesday’s town council meeting, council approved the Society’s application to change the zoning of three lots on Renfrew Avenue from multi-unit residential to public use, thus, amalgamating the lots and paving the way to move forward and vie for provincial funding applications.
According to a report from consulting planner James van Hemert, “Cowichan Lake Elder Care Society proposes an affordable housing project to serve vulnerable residents in a manner that ‘allows them to remain in their community surrounded by their friends, family, and support services’.”
The project will include 30 one- and two-bedroom units within a four storey, wood-framed apartment building near to the Lake Cowichan branch of the Vancouver Island Public Library and town square.
“In addition, the society is aiming to provide flexible home care services within the new building to further support their future tenants,” said the report.
Lakewood Manor will ultimately sit upon two town-owned parcels intended to be donated to the society in the future, and one parcel owned by the society but due to their current zoning, “senior citizen housing” isn’t permitted.
The change to “public use” zoning allows both seniors housing and seniors care facilities.
Due to a conflict of interest, neither mayor Tim McGonigle nor councillor Carolyne Austin could vote on the zoning amendment, as both are members of the Cowichan Lake Elder Care Society.
McGonigle, however, later said it “certainly is” a big step forward for the much-needed community project.
“With the amalgamation of those lots, we will now be able to move forward for an application for funding from B.C. Housing,” he said.
At the last Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September, McGonigle said he spoke to the province about the need for looking at shovel ready projects.
“During the COVID the focus was on those that needed shelter or were marginally housed,” he said. “We can now focus on projects that can free up some inventory and that maybe could accommodate rental housing.”
While McGonigle worries there may be more red tape down the road in terms of provincial funding thanks to new conditions, he’s hopeful the province will see the need in Lake Cowichan for the project and provide the necessary funds to help it come to fruition.