Seabreeze transition continues as temporary use and development variance permits granted

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A temporary residential site for Seabreeze Inne residents displaced by the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation (LMHF) purchase of the motel earlier this year is shaping up at 154 Kings Lane.

“BC Housing is still awaiting sign-off from Technical Safety BC,” said LMHF executive director Roberta Martell on Monday, so the units are not yet ready to house people.

BC Housing stated that the trailers are from the Black Diamond Group, which will also provide all material services and meals for residents.

But according to one Seabreeze Inne resident, not everyone is on board to move as soon as the Kings Lane site is ready.

Rich Bahry has lived at the Seabreeze Inne since before the pandemic. He is physically disabled but does not receive support from BC Housing and was paying $1,500 per month to the motel owner for his room.

On Friday, he reported that some residents have retained a lawyer “who has advised us that we should have a cut-and-dried Residential Tenancy Branch case and to stay where you are. Wait for the notice.”

Because the LMHF leased the entire building to BC Housing and the agreement stated the Residential Tenancy Act does not apply, Martell has said her organization is not obligated to provide eviction notices to individuals due to renovations. The LMHF’s only relationship is with BC Housing, she said.

“We are just moving along with the process as we understand it,” she said, adding that LMHF has also received legal advice.

Other Seabreeze residents are interested in moving to the Kings Lane site, said Bahry, and BC Housing staff have been meeting with them to help facilitate the move.

“Personally it’s not at all suitable for me by dint of the fact there are stairs involved,” said Bahry. “I just can’t get around. I can’t have a shower. It just doesn’t work.”

The Kings Lane parcel belongs to the Gulf Islands Seniors Residence Association (GISRA), which owns Meadowbrook on Atkins Road and has plans for a similar seniors housing project at the Kings Lane site. BC Housing expressed gratitude to GISRA for agreeing to lease its property to facilitate creation of temporary housing for the Seabreeze individuals, who were supposed to move to a new BC Housing facility on land owned by the Capital Regional District at 161 Drake Road.

In March the LMHF took possession of the Seabreeze Inne. It then entered an agreement to lease the building to BC Housing until the end of June. That agreement was extended until July 15 when it became apparent the Drake Road site was nowhere near being completed and another location for temporary housing needed to be secured.

Martell said the LMHF has a deconstruction permit to begin readying the Seabreeze building for a renovation that will see its current 28 rooms converted to 17 units of housing for Lady Minto Hospital staff.

Last Tuesday the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee granted a temporary use permit and development variance permit that is needed for the Seabreeze renovation to be done.

“I’m glad we were able to find the temporary use permit process to move forward,” said trustee Laura Patrick when speaking in favour of the motion. “I do understand the concerns and conversations being made in the community, but [the Trust] processing forward on this building is a separate matter. BC Housing and other parties are doing what they’re doing.”

Architect’s drawings of the project and related material is in the agenda package for the July 12 meeting on the islandstrust.bc.ca website.

A CRD building permit is still required for the renovation to proceed.

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