The Duncan Housing Society is proposing to rebuild the Duncan Manor on the St. John’s Anglican Church property on Jubilee Street and adjacent land owned by the Cowichan Valley Regional District. The church would stay in place, but the church hall would be taken down. (Wiser Projects graphic)

New site considered for Duncan Manor

Church property on Jubilee Street eyed by Duncan Housing Society

The Duncan Housing Society is eyeing a new location for the rebuild of Duncan Manor.

Society representatives, along with Shelley Cook, executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association, told the board of the Cowichan Valley Regional District at a recent meeting that the St. John’s Anglican Church property at 486 Jubilee St. is being considered for a complete rebuild of the nearby aging Duncan Manor on First Street.

The DHS would also require a plot of adjacent land to the church property, which belongs to the CVRD, for the proposed project, and the board agreed to have staff prepare a report on the possibility of dedicating the land for the development of the new Duncan Manor.

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According to preliminary site plans, the church would stay in place, while the new six-storey facility, which would have 133 units, and a parking lot would be constructed on the area where the church hall is currently located and much of the rest of the property, including the CVRD’s land.

The plans could be subject to change as the process is in its very initial stages.

If the proposal moves forward, the plan would be to relocate the existing tenants at Duncan Manor to the new facility and then a new building would be constructed on the existing site of Duncan Manor in a second phase of redevelopment.

The two phases would together result in 300 to 350 new affordable housing units for seniors and people with disabilities that are much needed in the region.

Speaking for the DHS, Jordan Brietzke, a planner with Victoria-based Wiser Projects, said the church site is currently underutilized, the CVRD land is vacant, and the DHS has received support from the Anglican Diocese and the church’s parish council to explore opportunities for the property.

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“B.C. Housing has committed funding to this project through a very competitive community housing fund and this is an opportunity that should not be wasted,” Brietzke said.

“The DHS has been looking for a site for this project in Duncan and North Cowichan for years. The majority of tenants at Duncan Manor do not have personal vehicles and this site is central and close to services and amenities.”

The current Duncan Manor is a three-storey, 122-unit building that offers below-market independent housing for seniors and persons with disabilities.

The facility is more than 50 years old and has reached the end of its life expectancy.

The DHS had proposed replacing it with an entirely new six-storey expanded facility at the current site with 133 new and affordable housing units when completed.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the City of Duncan and the DHS last year in which the city committed to considering swapping a portion of the nearby Lawn Bowling Club for a section of Centennial Park’s parking lot to make way for the construction of the new building on a portion of the parking lot.

But Duncan city council turned down plans for the land swap last December after many in the community raised concerns about the loss of green space in the city if the proposal was given the green light.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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