Hospital Foundation Extends Seabreeze Inne Possession Date
Extension of the subject-removal date for the Seabreeze Inne purchase has given current tenants some breathing room, but the extra six weeks may still not be enough time for new homes to be found.
The Lady Minto Hospital Foundation (LMHF), which has a subject-to offer to purchase the motel that began renting rooms with BC Housing support during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Friday that the foundation’s potential possession date has been moved to late February. That means current rentals can continue until Feb. 15, 2022, rather than the originally set date of Dec. 31.
LMHF said in a press release that it continues to collaborate daily with government agencies and service providers on the transition of occupants triggered by the sale of the privately owned motel near Ganges.
However, Salt Spring Island Community Services (SSICS) executive director Rob Grant said he is so far not aware of realistic solutions to secure housing for the approximately 18 displaced tenants.
“That worries me with the tight timeline,” Grant said on Sunday. “Feb. 15 is still a very short timeline, particularly with Christmas in the middle, and organizations such as ours already being short-staffed and very busy.”
Grant added that the 2021 homeless count identified 148 individuals on Salt Spring.
“I would like to see if there is a way for people to stay in their Seabreeze homes for now and have a well-planned transition based on a timeline when LMHF actually needs the building vacant for their purposes,” Grant continued. “I don’t see any major downsides to that option, so I hope it could at least be considered. There may be other options that I am not aware of, but I think the whole community would breathe a sigh of relief if we can land on a solution quickly.”
Earlier this fall, when SSICS was unsuccessful in its attempt to purchase the inne with assistance from BC Housing, and it was going to revert to tourist accommodation, LMHF decided to purchase the property for hospital staff housing.
“The option was to let the Seabreeze revert to tourist accommodation, or to try and keep it as a community housing asset,” said Roberta Martell, the foundation’s executive director. “Increasing the number of rental units will be important to the island and invaluable to the hospital where 31 positions are currently vacant.”
She added, “I hope folks understand that the temporary housing operating out of the inne isn’t closing because we’re buying it, it’s closing because it wasn’t purchased to continue as such by either BC Housing or Community Services. We understand that their decision has been to fund a custom-built supportive-housing facility rather than investing in purchasing the Seabreeze to use it as such. For the sake of so many vulnerable people on Salt Spring, we look forward to seeing progress on that project sooner rather than later. Thanks to the current owner for opening up his motel to temporarily house the vulnerable, and for working closely with us to provide time to help facilitate a transition.”
LMHF says access to long-term rental housing is imperative for maintaining optimal hospital staffing levels, which is why the organization has made housing a major priority. The Seabreeze’s 28 motel rooms will be renovated into 14 to 16 traditional rental apartments, which will be rented by Lady Minto Hospital staff.
The foundation’s offer to acquire the Seabreeze Inne is its third housing initiative, along with providing a grant to support rental of a “landing pad” to house newly hired hospital staff, and the creation of an online rental database: the Housing Information Portal or HIPlist.
LMHF board chair Dave Taylor noted, “Everybody needs a home, full stop. This is a time not for conflict, but for collaboration. This crisis is bringing people together and shining a light on the need for focused coordination on housing.”