Aging in Place with Vitality and Grace
Sooke Region Elders Complex
What are the needs for this complex?
The 2019 Housing Needs Report prepared for the District of Sooke states “It should be noted that approximately 44 percent of the households in the community earn less than $60,000 per year. In addition, a significant proportion of these households are likely to be senior households (head of the household is 65 years and over) and retirees, who are more likely to face housing suitability and affordability issues. Therefore, Sooke is likely to display a higher need for more affordable and lower priced housing products aimed at senior households.”
The report also provides statistics showing that seniors households are the fastest growing demographic in the community and will continue to be for the next ten years.
This conclusion is supported by the Provincial Health Services Authority’s 2019 report on the community health profile of Sooke. The report provides a graph showing that as a percentage of the population of Sooke, residents over 65 years will exceed the youth under fifteen years by the year 2021 and the gap is projected to widen considerably over the coming decades.
This and other studies demonstrate the critical need for affordable housing and support services for many hundreds of seniors throughout our region.
Canada wide, this is a serious concern. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer stated that “the COVID 19 pandemic has helped us identify a major weakness in the way we treat Seniors in this country” and that “we must completely rethink Seniors care as they age in Canada”. About eighty per cent of all deaths in this country due to COVID 19 have been in seniors care homes.
However, more meaningful than the statistics and the general statements regarding the neglect of this growing segment of our society, this is about people, neighbours living throughout our region. Some elders (a name preferred by elderly friends living in Sooke) are suffering in unhealthy or even squalid living conditions, alone without families or friends nearby to support them.
Its about Shirley, who had to move out of Sooke because she could not find an affordable place to live. Leaving her friends behind, she is now living in Langford, alone, embittered, and missing the community and friends she loves so much.
Its about Frank, who is living in an old, dilapidated trailer, which is seriously compromising his health and wellbeing but he does not have the financial means to improve his living conditions.
Its about Joe, who is recently widowed. He does not know how to cook healthy meals for himself, or properly take care of his house and yard. Burdened with grief at the loss of his wife, his children living across Canada, he is lonely and depressed feeling his life is meaningless.
Its about Mary, who needs a walker to get around and she has a scooter but where she lives it is unsafe for her to walk or ride her scooter leaving her trapped in her home with no place else to move to. She is upset that she can’t take care of herself because she does not have the freedom to go shopping, or to the park, or out for coffee.
(Note: Though these are fictitious names. The stories are related to real life circumstances facing elders)
This Complex will not only relieve the distress and misery currently facing these and other elders in our region, it will improve the lives of elders for generations. Most of us will reach the age when the services provided through this Complex will be invaluable to our quality of life, let’s make the investment in our future now.
How would you describe the Elders Complex?
The proposed elders Complex is much more than a building constructed to the highest standards to house elders with space for recreation. Together in partnership, the District of Sooke, the Sooke Region Communities Health Network and the Sooke Seniors Drop In Center Society have the unique opportunity to create an affordable community living environment for elders to have meaningful, vibrant lives, maintaining their independence and enjoying the involvement of youth and others to enrich their lives for generations to come.
Located on the Northeast quadrant of Lot A, those visiting and living in the Complex will have easy access to shops and services in town, to the neighbouring library and to bus service on Wadams Way.
What is unique about this Complex?
This is a “made in Sooke for Sooke” preventive care initiative. It is an innovative model for enabling elders to independently age in place with dignity avoiding or delaying by years the need for assisted living services or being housed in a long-term care facility. Providing independent living facilities, with non-medical support services combined with the Elders Drop-in Centre for socializing and enriching life experiences, will prevent social isolation and other prevalent aging challenges which seriously compromise and needlessly shorten the lives of many elders living in our region.
The services provided through the Complex will benefit elders living throughout the region. It will be a central hub where other care providers can visit to provide immunization, foot care and other minor medical care as well as counselling services enabling elders to obtain these services locally at one place rather than navigating through the maze of social services offered by various agencies in multiple locations.
The Complex will provide a cost-effective, far more beneficial alternative for serving this long-neglected segment of our society rather than the current services provided through government and private sector organizations.
What do you mean by independent living?
Independent living facilities are for older adults, some of whom may have compromised mobility, who need little or no assistance with activities of daily living.
What are the non-medical services that will be provided to the elders?
The Sooke Region Better at Home Program provides friendly visiting, minor home repairs, and housekeeping services (on a sliding scale). Some meals will be available for purchase from the Sooke Elders Drop-In Centre which will be on the main floor of the Complex. There will be stimulating learning experiences and opportunities for service through the Volunteer centre providing an uplifting and meaningful quality of life for elders.
Who will the Complex serve?
The Complex will provide rental accommodations for 55+ elders from the Sooke Region. The Drop-in Centre will serve elders in the Sooke Region (from Beecher Bay to Port Renfrew) providing activities, events, educational opportunities, and social connections for the region’s elders. The non-medical social services will be provided to the Complex residents and to elders living throughout the Sooke Region.
We are in the very early stages of the preliminary design of the Complex. The design will be finalized over the coming months based on the design requirements of the District and the BC Housing Corporation and the recommendations of a local elders focus group who will provide their requirements and review the design as it is developed.
What is the size of the Complex?
The Complex will have the Elders Drop-in Centre of up to 8,000 sq. ft. on the ground floor.
Above the Elders Centre will be a four to five storey building of up to 76 affordable rental suites designed to meet elders needs. The Complex will be built to the latest standards for quality building construction which will reduce the utilities costs to the tenants and the ongoing maintenance costs of the Complex.
What do you mean by affordable rental suites?
Following BC Housing affordability guidelines, the primary proposed funder of the project, 30% will be affordable suites at 20% below market value, 50% will be rent adjusted according to the income of the tenant and 20% will be deep subsidy suites.
What is the design of the suites?
There will be up to 51 one-bedroom suites and 25 two-bedroom suites. A number of the suites will be wheel chair accessible and the others will be adaptable to the needs of elders.
SRCHN & its Project Management Team
Who is SRCHN and why is this organization doing this project?
SRCHN is a local Community Services Cooperative with charitable status. It networks with individuals and organizations providing programs and services to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in the Sooke Region.
It is currently the lead organization for the temporary shelter for the homeless in Sooke and is providing The Sooke Region Better at Home Program, Sooke Region Volunteer Centre, age friendly committee consultation, and Life-Long Learning programs and services to the Sooke Region. SRCHN’s website is: https://www.sookeregionchn.org
SRCHN has been working for a number of years identifying the needs of elders in the region and advocating for a elders’ centre in collaboration with the Seniors Drop-in Centre Society and other concerned individuals and organizations in the region.
Who are the members of the project team and what are their experience with this type of project?
The Project Management Team members are:
Mary Dunn, President of SRCHN,
Rick Robinson, Vice President of SRCHN,
Andrew Moore, architect and member of SRCHN,
Don Brown, director of SRCHN and
Carol Pinalski, President of the Sooke Elders Drop-in Society.
Both Rick and Andrew have direct experience with this type of project and the other members provide other skills and experience to contribute to the management of the project. Brief bios of the Project Team members are available on the SRCHN website at: https://www.sookeregionchn.org/our-board.
The team has contracted with Wiser Projects to manage the project and the architecture firm of Mobius. Mobius designed both Harbourside Cohousing and West Wind Harbour Cohousing here in Sooke. Both of these individuals and their teams have extensive experience working on projects of this size and complexity.
The Project Team will be adding team members throughout the project and contracting with professional firms as required to ensure the success of the project.
For more information regarding SRCHN please contact Mary Dunn, President, SRCHN at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information regarding the support services provided for the elders please contact Mary Dunn, President of SRCHN at: email@example.com
For more information regarding the services that will be provided in the Elders Drop-in Centre, please contact Carol Pinalski, President, Seniors Drop-in Centre: QEO@shaw.ca
For media enquiries and questions from the public, please contact Don Brown, Communications Liaison for the Elders Complex Project at firstname.lastname@example.org call 250-884-9636.
For more technical information on the project please contact our team architect, Andrew Moore at email@example.com
Where are you at in the project and when will it be built?
We are at the preliminary stage of the project, determining the basic functional requirements and a conceptual design. We are preparing the necessary documentation for submitting a grant application to the Federal/Provincial Infrastructure Fund for funding 65% of the capital costs of the Elders Drop-in Centre.
We are also conducting a feasibility study and youth consultation to determine how best to integrate youth programs with the operations of the Complex.
We will then be preparing the necessary documentation to submit to the BC Housing Corporation to finance the construction of the Complex including the rental structure and amenities for the drop-in centre.
Detailed Design and project development planning will begin in the spring of 2021 once the funding for the project is finalized. Construction will begin in early 2022 and Project completion in 2023.
How will the project be funded?
The very preliminary project cost estimate is $22,000,000.
The District of Sooke is providing a long-term lease for a portion of the Northeast Quadrant of Lot A for the Elders Complex.
The District has set aside $270,000 of Gaming funds for the design and development of the Complex and for the youth programing portion of the project.
The Seniors Drop-in Society has $60,000 and equipment worth $99,000 for a commercial kitchen.
A grant of $2.4 million dollars is being applied for from the Federal/Provincial Infrastructure fund, 65% of which is to finance the Drop-in Centre. The remainder is to be contributed by the community through fundraising.
$19+ million dollars will be financed through BC Housing for the residential accommodations and amenity space for the Complex.
Approximately $600,000+ will need to be raised through community fundraising.
The SRCHN Project Team are volunteers and will receive no material benefits from the project.
No contract commitments will be made until the necessary funding is in place.
What if you are not successful in obtaining the Infrastructure Grant?
We will need to increase our fundraising as much as possible, look for other grants to apply for and obtain additional mortgage financing from BC Housing or another lender, which will be paid for by the proceeds from the operation of the Complex.
What if you are not successful in obtaining BC Housing financing?
We will improve our application for subsequent funding opportunities from BC Housing, and we will look for other funding sources. We will also determine the feasibility of partnering with a private developer provided we do not lose the non-profit affordability and social services that are integral to the success of the project.
How will the Funds be raised?
A fundraising committee is being organized and a fundraising campaign is being developed. Fundraising has therefore not officially commenced yet.
The architect is creating some initial drawings of the Complex by the end of September 2020 to provide a picture of the structure we are building to assist with fundraising.
Once fundraising commences, funds will be contributed to SRCHN, earmarked for the project and tax receipts will be provided for all contributions over $20. A link will be provided on the SRCHN website so contributions can be made online.
As there may be individuals that wish to gift a substantial amount to the project, we recommend contacting Don Brown directly ().
District of Sooke Council Resolution
Following is the exact wording of the motion that was passed by Council at it regular Council meeting on Monday, September 14th.
11.3. Rise and Report of September 8, 2020 In-Camera Resolution:
THAT Council direct staff to draft a letter of understanding with SRCHN (Sooke Region Community Health Network) providing, in principle:
• Approval, in principle, of the partnership with SRCHN to develop the project.
• Support for SRCHN in approaching funders.
• Granting of a long-term lease on the Elders/Youth Complex on a portion of the Northeast Quadrant of Lot A.
• Facilitation for appropriate Zoning.
• Access to $30,000 of project funds held in trust by the District of Sooke, contingent upon a legal opinion.
Who will operate the Complex?
SRCHN will manage the operation of the Complex and provide the non-medical services to the tenants and to elders throughout the region.
The Sooke Seniors Center Drop-in Society will operate the Elders Drop-in Centre providing services to the tenants and to all elders throughout the region.
The Complex operation will be self-sustaining requiring no ongoing support from public agencies other than possibly support for the subsidized rental accommodations.
We will be requesting property tax relief for the Elders Complex as it is a charitable social service for the Sooke region.