With a waiting list of 120 people, efforts are underway to expand a seniors housing complex in Vernon.
The Vernon Pensioners Accommodation Society is proposing an 11-story expansion to McCulloch Court on Coldstream Avenue.
The proposed $22 million project would provide 104 additional low income rental suites adjacent to the existing six-story complex consisting of 113 units.
Considering McCulloch Court’s long list of seniors trying to move in, there is a real need to expand, says VPAS president Ray Ivey.
“I’m sure every facility in the area is in the same situation,” said Ivey. “The Vernon area has one of the lowest vacancy rates in all of B.C. and the need is just growing.”
The project, in some form, has been on the books for more than 10 years, but equity and financing have prevented it from coming to fruition.
VPAS would cover the majority of costs through revenue from the suites, but needs $5 to $7 million, which it hopes to gain from federal and provincial funding.
“The federal government announced $1.4 billion across Canada that’s going to be for housing,” said Ivey, adding that B.C. would get $90 million over three years, which the province would match.
“Of course we’d like to get some of that.
“And we’ve been told verbally (by B.C. Housing) that we’re one of the priorities in the province,” said Ivey.
But the criteria for those funds have not yet been clearly defined, therefore VPAS is waiting to see if its project would fit the bill.
In the meantime, the society has been collecting support from the region in order to show B.C. Housing and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation that there is a need for more seniors housing in the North Okanagan.
The City of Vernon, District of Coldstream, Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster and Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes have all submitted letters of support.
Working with Graham Construction (which constructed the Polson Tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital), VPAS has already done up drawings, environmental work and geophysical work.
Therefore, if the plan gains the financial support necessary, Ivey says it could start moving dirt a couple months later. It would take approximately 12 to 16 months to complete.