Developer pledges $1 million to Victoria's housing fund in lieu of below-market units at seniors complex
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Published June 15, 2019
The developer of a seniors housing complex planned for 1900 Richmond Road at Fort Street in the City of Victoria’s Jubilee neighbourhood has vowed to contribute a significant sum to the City’s Housing Reserve Fund.
In lieu of providing below-market or subsidized residences as part of its project, West Vancouver-based Milliken Developments will gift the City $1 million to use towards affordable housing initiatives at council’s discretion.
The decision to forgo an ask for a contingent of below-market seniors rental suites (in response to council’s plan to begin infusing market residential projects with affordable housing quotes) was based on the complex and changing level of care Milliken’s facility will provide, and the difficulty of providing that care while maintaining a below-market cost commitment.
“We provide a spectrum of care that runs from "light" assisted living care, which might include assistance with bathing, medication management etc, right up to palliative care,” says Kate Milliken Binns, president and COO of Milliken Developments, as part of a written statement to council.
“A resident could move in with us, only requiring an hour of care per day at that point, and within 6 months, could have progressed to needing 6 or more hours of care per day. As a result, our staffing levels are very high (in the area of 1 staff per 3 residents, where publicly funded communities are typically 1 staff to 10 residents) and we do not have any restrictions on the amount of care a resident can receive.”
Milliken says that the potential for rapid changes to the care needs of a resident may push their ability to afford a suite within the building well beyond the initial subsidized rate for their unit, and could result in the individual having to move to another facility. This, Milliken Binns says, is likely to be “very disruptive to their lives."
“For this reason, we view subsidization for some residents as problematic, but believe we have a potential solution to Council's request. We would like to propose that we contribute $1 million to the City's Housing Reserve Fund, to be used as the City sees fit. We feel that this would be more impactful, and less problematic, than attempting to make subsidization of some specific residents work.”
Known as Maison Victoria, the project is proposed at five-storeys with 167 residences. Amenity spaces and the rental-based nature of the homes will be maintained in perpetuity through a covenant Milliken will sign with the City. The covenant will also ensure that amenity spaces will not be converted to additional residences.
Maison Victoria will replace an ageing four-storey medical office building (adorned with an iconic Rod of Asclepius art installation) that Milliken Binns says is at the end of its useful life and operates with a 70% vacancy rate.
“The single pane windows rattle and are drafty (our tenants tell us so) and we can't get replacement parts for the elevators, as they are too old,” Milliken Binns said, adding that Maison Victoria will include zoning uses restricted to "medical office and retail pharmacy for the retail space on the ground floor of our proposed building.”
The proposal will go before Committee of the Whole next week where council will decide whether to send the project to a public hearing. Staff are in support of the plans. C
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