Rendering showing the proposed building as one would view it from the sidewalk.

Positive response at public hearing to Courtenay seniors project

A public hearing on a new seniors’ development in Courtenay drew mostly praise last week.

Ocean Front Village is being planned near the intersection of Cliffe Avenue and 29th Street.

Golden Life, of Cranbrook, wants to build the seniors complex on five contiguous lots with a total size of 3.61 acres. Each of the properties fronts onto Cliffe Avenue and the Courtenay Riverway.

The proposed complex includes 78 independent living units in a four-storey building, and a two-storey building with a 76-bed assisted care facility.

The latter building, though, is on hold now with Island Health this month cancelling its Request for Proposal for 70-care beds.

However, Adam Lillejord, of Golden Tree, said the project is going ahead, albeit in two phases now.

Courtenay senior Russ Boutilier told the hearing that the property is “ideal for senior residents.”

“I’ve been using the walkway for years,” he said, adding that he visited Berwick seniors’ facility in Comox several years ago and “they told me not to wait too long”.

“I’m ready,” he said. “It looks really good. I’ve been watching all the proposals … this one seems solid. I’m really for it.”

Canadian Tire owner Bert Heeringa sent a letter of support to the hearing, calling the project “vibrant” and “well thought out” as well as esthetically pleasing.

“I think the project is well balanced … functional and attractive and a great lead-in to Courtenay,” he wrote.

Peter Gerritsen, who had owned 2.93 acres of the land assembled by Golden Life for the project, said the developers had put their “heart and soul into this project.”

“It’s a meaningful project with tasteful design at the entrance to the city. The proximity to the walking trail, access to shopping … it’s an ideal location for independent, assisted living,” he said.

But Jennifer Pass, co-ordinator of the group Elders Take Action, said the project would do nothing to alleviate the need for low-cost housing.

“This is really just another Berwick. If we’re looking at low-cost housing … this may be a wonderful project but it’s not going to solve that problem,” she said.

The public hearing was held to address zoning amendments to rezone two of the five properties currently zoned commercial to multi-residential R-4A, and to add care facility and complementary uses in the R-4A zone.

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