Berwick Retirement Communities was planning to build a facility in Parksville at 180 Jensen Ave., but the founders of the company have cancelled the project saying it would be too close to a supportive housing facility at 222 Corfield St. - NEWS file photo

Berwick cancels proposed $50M seniors facility in Parksville

Project would have housed approximately 250 seniors, staffed 150 employees and included a daycare

A $50-million Berwick seniors residence and assisted-living project planned for Parksville has been cancelled.

Berwick Retirement Communities announced June 10 that the seniors facility, that would have housed approximately 250 seniors, staffed 150 employees and would include a daycare, will no longer go ahead at 180 Jensen Ave. East, because of its close proximity to Orca Place—the BC Housing supportive housing facility at 222 Corfield St.

“Through our experience, looking at other (supportive housing) projects of a similar nature, it has an effect on the surrounding neighbourhood, and typically the neighbourhood has some challenges that are not conducive to seniors or children,” said Berwick president and CEO Chris Denford.

RELATED: Subject subdivision application withdrawn in Parksville

RELATED: Berwick opposes rezoning for Parksville supportive housing project

Denford said Berwick is disappointed with the cancellation of the project but that it was a necessary decision.

“We put a lot of time and effort into this. Leading up to receiving our development permit we spent a lot of money on our plan and invested a lot of time and energy in that community,” Denford said. “When we were about ready to receive our building permit, to get the news that that project was going across the street from us was pretty devastating. Although we invested a considerable amount of money to this date, it’s a $52-million project… to invest the rest of it with the situation in that city would have been a pretty significant mistake.”

Denford said the cancellation of the seniors facility is a “huge lost opportunity” for the City of Parksville.

“Although we hadn’t finalized our staffing model, it’s around 150 jobs on an ongoing basis and it would also have provided an important form of housing for the seniors that they don’t currently have in that community,” Denford said.

RELATED: UPDATE: City of Parksville buys 222 Corfield site

Gordon Denford, Berwick owner, said the Parksville mayor and council excluded Berwick from participation in negotiations with BC Housing and the Regional District of Nanaimo in regards to the supportive housing project.

“We wanted to be part of the negotiations with BC Housing and the regional district to mitigate the risk and to have the supportive housing modified or relocated,” he said. “It wasn’t that we were against the supportive housing, we were actually supportive, but it was a very bad decision to place it on Corfield. It would put the seniors and our employees and the daycare centre at risk.”

At this time, Berwick is not considering another location in Parksville for the seniors facility.

“I can’t divulge which communities but we’re already looking outside [Parksville] at other places because we really enjoy what we do and if Parksville doesn’t want us, we’re happy to go somewhere where we will be well-received,” Denford said.

RELATED: Lawsuit dropped in Parksville’s 222 Corfield case

Parksville mayor Ed Mayne while he was disappointed to hear the news, the cancellation announcement didn’t come as a huge surprise to him, as Berwick told council back in October they had plans to cancel the project.

“We would have loved to have seen Berwick here,” Mayne said. “We did everything we could when this council and myself were running for election. When we got [elected] we said that this was going to be a hard fight of which there was very little likelihood that we would accomplish totally eliminating the (supportive) housing from [Corfield]. The councillors that were negotiating this deal did an amazing job getting what they got. There’s nothing more we could have done, we came in with our hands tied.”

Mayne said in terms of not including Berwick in negotiations, the community charter requires any discussions pertaining to legal or land to be held in-camera.

“There’s no way Berwick would have been involved in any of the discussion when we were [in-camera],” Mayne said. “Secondly, this was a direct negotiation between us and BC Housing and the Regional District of Nanaimo.”

karly.blats@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Protest misleading pricing

Not all of us want or can afford to buy in multiples to get a lower price, says letter writer

Nanaimo high school grad awarded Schulich Leader scholarship

Elise McRae Coates enrolled in UVic school of Earth and ocean sciences

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Addiction, homelessness response isn’t working

Elected officials need to be willing to try something else, says letter writer

Man who stole and burned U.S. politician’s portrait has manuscript he wrote in prison stolen in Nanaimo

Jeff Thomas Black stranded after passport and other items taken while he was sleeping downtown

UPDATED: City of Nanaimo says it’s ‘back on track’ with waste collection

Mechanical issues, ‘additional pressures’ caused delays

Nanaimo school district staff test-ride e-bikes as commuting option

Environmental stewardship and sustainability a school district priority

Vancouver Island RCMP hunt for man after pair of indecent exposure incidents

Elderly Qualicum Beach woman grabbed by man who had been masturbating in the woods

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Hundreds of Kin club members meeting in Nanaimo this week

Service club holding national convention Aug. 21-24

House fire in Nanaimo earlier this month being investigated as suspicious

Nanaimo Fire Rescue hands over Palomino Place house fire investigation to RCMP

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Snowbirds’ militarism shouldn’t be celebrated

The public has accepted this military demonstration team as benign entertainment, says letter writer

Most Read