Downtown Vernon seniors care facility on track

A proposed large seniors care facility in downtown is an exciting opportunity, according to Minda Chittenden

A proposed large seniors care facility in downtown is an exciting opportunity, according to Minda Chittenden.

A gerontologist and kinesiologist with Vernon-based Meridian Rehabilitation Consulting Inc., Chittenden spoke in favour of a plan to build a downtown seniors care facility on 29th Avenue in the Bennett parking lot, located a block over from Meridian Rehabilitation.

“I do private rehab for people that are in care homes in the community, injured in car accidents, have dementia or other aging issues,” said Chittenden to Vernon council on Monday.

“It’s exciting to hear of some willingness to put in a facility downtown. So many of our clients and so many people as they age have no opportunity anymore to get to shopping on their own.

“I really do feel sorry for family members and individuals that can no longer get to anything downtown.”

Council was reviewing a development variance permit application submitted by Kamloops-based Tri-City Canada Inc. to develop the lot, and construct a large seniors care facility.

Phase 1 of the proposed project on the half-a-city-block space is comprised of 90 residential care beds, 52 assisted living units and 3,500 square feet of commercial space.

Phase 2 would see 72 senior’s apartments/condos and Phase 3 would see another 36 assisted living units constructed along with 4,800 square feet of commercial space.

“This project started in response to a request for proposals from Interior Health earlier this year,” said Craig Broderick, economic development planner with the city.

“There was quite a bit of interest from the development community to provide 85 care beds within the City of Vernon, though it didn’t stipulate downtown or rural.”

Broderick said several proposals were submitted to IHA, and reviewed over the summer, with Interior Health deciding to work with Tri-City on the Bennett lot proposal.

“We submitted on this RFP two locations in Vernon and two in Kelowna,” said Casey VanDongen, owner/president of Tri City Canada Inc. “Interior Health came back and said they really wanted us to do the downtown project.”

The other Vernon location Tri City submitted was on a five-acre rural parcel on Deleenheen Road behind Walmart.

The downtown location was preferred because of its access to the City of Vernon bus exchange. Because of that factor, less parking is required on the 29th Avenue site.

Vernon council unanimously supported the variance application dealing with zoning bylaw regulations related to required parking, upper floor setbacks, shadow regulations, private open space requirements, road right of way setbacks and road work requirements.