Glacier View Lodge

Courtenay residential care facility proposes to build affordable housing

The Glacier View Lodge Society has a long-term vision to construct affordable, low-barrier housing at its 42-acre property on Back Road in Courtenay.

In conjunction with the Comox Valley Community Health Network and the CV Coalition To End Homelessness, the society has compiled a survey to determine appropriate housing needs, particularly for seniors.

“We are looking at how we can use this land to serve the people of the Comox Valley,” GVL board chair James Taylor said. “We are aware there is a very serious shortage of appropriate, affordable housing for seniors. We’re stewards of this land. We want to make a development which will serve the purposes of housing, but we do not wish to have a seniors’ ghetto. We wish to serve a variety of populations that are in need of housing. We are looking at people with modest incomes, especially seniors.”

The idea is to serve people who are not being served by market rental.

The coalition’s last Point in Time Count determined that seniors comprise 29 per cent of the local homeless population. The organization expects the percentage to increase, considering the number of seniors who turn to non-profits to find safe, affordable and accessible places to live.

“We appreciate Glacier View’s interest in finding ways to safely house not only the isolated, vulnerable, low-income seniors that the coalition so often hears about, but also in wanting to build a healthy, multi-generational development for all community members,” said Andrea Cupelli, co-ordinator of the Comox Valley Coalition To End Homelessness.

“It’s great to see that altruistic vision,” said Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells, who feels zoning won’t be a major issue when it comes time to build. “There’s such a housing need right now. We have, in our strategic priorities, identified housing is one of the number one needs. This has been something that I’ve been motivating and pushing for decades. To see this happening in this way, it’s quite heart-warming.

“I’m extremely hopeful,” Wells added. “To me, this is a call to action. There’s only so much we (city council) can do. Glacier View is a shining example of an organization that says, ‘We have some land, and we’re willing to use it for the public good’.”

The lodge intends to build in a way that is sensitive to the land.

“It’s treed, beautiful land,” Taylor said. “We do not want to build helter skelter on the land. We also want to build it in a way that will be sustainable over a long period of time.”

Glacier View has enlisted the services of master of planning students at Vancouver Island University to consider a host of options that could work for the proposal. Housing options could include day care, co-op housing, rental or freehold.

“They’ve tailored their courses to us for this upcoming academic year,” Taylor said.

Students will report back in January, which will be followed by a community engagement. The lodge will then consider what is feasible.

“What we do know is we are in no position to bankroll a big development,” Taylor said. “We’re a residential care facility, and if a residential care facility is doing its job, there is no profit.”

The history of Glacier View Lodge dates back to 1946 when the Women’s Institute of Northern Vancouver Island recognized the need for a home for senior citizens in the north end of the island. Farmers who owned the site deeded the land originally to the City of Courtenay, which later transferred the land to the Comox Valley Regional District. In 1982, it was turned over to the Glacier View Lodge Society.

“We offer a kind of care that is really hard to come by these days,” Taylor said. “Our staff are the heart of everything we do.”

To find the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/cvseniorshousing

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