Bowser Seniors Housing Society is currently in the development process of building Lighthouse Villa, an affordable independent living facility for seniors.
Lighthouse Villa will contain 22 private units furnished with the seniors’ own possessions. Residents will live independently. Privacy and independence are preserved in a welcoming atmosphere providing companionship and social activities in the common areas. The residents are responsible for their own housekeeping, personal laundry and meals.
The 22 adaptable (three fully accessible) rental apartments consist of 20 one bedroom and 2 two bedrooms, all of differing sizes. The facility will be one storey in height and include surface parking stalls for residents. Each residential unit will be fully self-sufficient with bathroom, kitchen, bedroom(s), living area, and limited storage. Amenity space will be used for companionship, gatherings, crafts and games; and a coin-operated laundry will be provided on site for the residents. Lighthouse Villa will be located in the Bowser Village, behind Magnolia Court and close to shops, cafe, library, bank, trails and transportation.
The target group of residents for the Villa are local seniors who are finding it difficult to maintain their current residence, are feeling lonely and would benefit from increased socialization opportunities, and who would like to stay in their community rather than move to a larger town or city among strangers. The Society will be offering spaces to local seniors and to seniors outside the area through BC Housing Registry and our own waiting list.
Here is our status as of May 2022:
• As a result of a Request for Proposal that we submitted Sep 2018, BC Housing announced in Nov 2018 that we had been “approved to proceed” with our project with a $2.2M funding allotment
• This represents approximately one-third of the funding required. We continue to work with BC Housing and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for additional funding and our search for other fund sources is ongoing
• Our local fundraising campaign has raised approximately $325,000 to date
Crown Land Lease –
• Our Nominal Rent Tenure application was submitted to the Ministry of Forests (FLNRORD) May 2017 (our original 2012 Crown Land application had to be revised to accommodate BC Housing requirements)
• In Aug 2020, we signed a 30 year lease that was offered, but it wasn’t the 60 year term that we required
• We completed the conditions of the offer (our subdivision application) Jun 2021
• In Aug 2021, we were told that it would take 6 – 18 months to have the land transferred from FLNRORD to the Ministry of Housing (MAH) to achieve the 60 year lease term needed for BC Housing financing; we are in our 9th month as of May 2022
• As part of the transfer, BC Housing submitted their Sponsored Crown Grant application to their Board for approval in May/Jun 2022; it then has to pass through cabinet, which will hopefully give its approval by the end of this summer
Project Team –
• We signed a fixed contract with Checkwitch Poiron Architect in Dec 2017 and have completed up to the Construction Documentation and Procurement phases of the project; this contract is being updated for the final Construction Administration phase due to the original quote being over 4 years old
• Construction Management services were pursued in Jan 2018 and a contract was awarded to Saywell Contracting Ltd. in Mar 2018; this contract will also have to be updated due to the time lapsed
• Development Consultant services, as required since May 2016, were confirmed with a formal contract Jul 2018 with Walter Hoogland of Constructive Management; Walter has been working pro bono since Jul 2021
Site Development –
• All required site evaluations had been completed between 2018-2020 for environmental impact, geotechnical and seismic concerns
• A Hydrology Study for a stormwater management plan was completed by the Development Group for the Bowser Village (of which we were a participant) in 2018
• In Jun 2021, FLNRORD pronounced a downstream development to have a Stream Protection Enhancement Area (SPEA), which invalidated our recently filed Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP); additional civil, environmental and specialized arborist work was required to bring our site into compliance; we submitted our Riparian Areas Assessment Report in Mar 2022 for provincial approval
• We received our initial Property Tax Assessment for 2022, triggered by our new FLNRORD lease, for $689,000 in land value; we appealed the high value and were successful in reducing it to $609,000
Municipal and other Government Approvals –
• Waste treatment system – the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Board approved the Bowser Village Sewer Project in Dec 2017 and cancelled the project Mar 2019. With that news, we had to start again and design a septic system for our project. This has a much larger impact on our site in terms of space required, and both our zoning bylaw and our lease documents had to be amended.
• Rezoning – the RDN Board approved our original zoning bylaw Dec 2018 and our amendment to the bylaw Apr 2019
• Development Permit – was submitted early Nov 2019 and was approved by the RDN Mar 2020
• Land clearing – we submitted our Occupational Licence to Cut with FLNRORD in Jan 2018 for our building site; permission was issued with our new lease in Dec 2021 with a 5 year term
• Land clearing – we received permission from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to clear and construct Pitt Road as part of our subdivision application, but this expired Sep 2021 and will have to be requested again when we’re ready to clear
• Subdivision – this became a condition of the Aug 2020 FLNRORD lease with us and, working with MOTI and the RDN, was completed with registration of the new lot at the Land Titles Office in Jun 2021
• Building Permit – in Mar 2021, the RDN agreed to let us apply early for our Building Permit, so that the review of our Construction Drawings could begin. We have made progress, but the following items still need to be approved prior to issuance:
1. Stormwater Management Plan had been submitted and approved by both the RDN and MOTI in May 2021, but will have to be resubmitted once provincial approval of SPEA changes is received
2. Housing Agreement (between the RDN and the land/building owner) as well as additional covenants for firefighting and future sewer have been through the RDN review process and sit with BC Housing to be approved and registered against the property to ensure that the land is only used for seniors housing
3. New Development Permit application including the SPEA changes has to be submitted to the RDN for approval
4. Homeowner Protection Office rental exemption is required and will be obtained after the land transfer between ministries is completed
Next steps in 2022 will be –
• Completing the items listed above for the issuance of our Building Permit
• Sending our Construction Drawings out for Tender again (we had tendered after we went through 95% review with BC Housing Aug 2020 but, due to the delays caused by the subdivision process, the pricing expired Dec 2020)
• Working with BC Housing on their funding requirements and achieving their Final Project Approval
• Pursuing CMHC and other funding avenues for the balance required
All of our efforts are focused on making Lighthouse Villa a reality in the near future.