Company plans to move seniors’ housing facility

NANAIMO – Malaspina Gardens will be torn down at some point.

Malaspina Gardens will be torn down as Chartwell Seniors’ Housing looks to build a new $27-million residential care facility in south Nanaimo.

Chartwell has purchased a two-hectare property on Twelfth Street where it plans to build a 136-bed facility to replace Malaspina Gardens. The project has been talked about since 2012, when the company handed out pink slips to nearly 180 employees and contracted out work that it said was to make it a candidate for redevelopment.

According to Sharon Henderson, vice-president of communications for Chartwell, Malaspina Gardens – once the site of the old Nanaimo hospital – is their oldest site in Canada. It’s “antiquated,” with small working and living spaces, and infrastructure issues such as pipes and boilers. Two of the floors have been decommissioned.

With the age of the building, the facility couldn’t be rebuilt and will be torn down at some point, says Henderson, whose company is currently seeking re-zoning from the city to construct the replacement building.

There are 133 residents currently living at Malaspina Gardens. Island Health says a move would take a lot of advance planning and consultation with families, who must be given a year’s notice. They can also choose to go to the new facility, or a different residential home.

Construction is anticipated to take 20 months if approved by the City of Nanaimo.

The new facility is “very good news,” Henderson said.

“We are pleased to work with the Island Health authority to improve the conditions for our staff and residents and it’s a great investment into health care in the community.”