B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie (with Bishop Logan McMenamie of the Anglican Diocese of B.C. in his official dress) turns the sod in laying the cornerstone for the new affordable rental housing facility at 1550 Arrow Rd in Saanich. The Mount Douglas Seniors Housing Society is building a $10 million, 84-unit development. Travis Paterson/News Staff

$10 million Arrow Road affordable housing complex breaks ground in Saanich

Mount Douglas Manor is an 84-unit seniors housing complex

In clerical vestment and all, Bishop Logan McMenamie dug into the sod at 1550 Arrow Rd. to install a cornerstone commemorating the coming 84-unit seniors housing development.

Yes, McMenamie’s robe got a little dirty, but it’s all for the cause. The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of B.C. led a prayer for the coming 84-unit, $10 million Mount Douglas Manor. The three-storey complex will be installed next to the existing Mount Douglas Court, which has 81 tenants.

Groundbreaking at the new Mount Douglas Court Manor affordable seniors housing on Arrow Road.

Posted by Saanich News on Thursday, May 11, 2017

“As a church committed to advancing economic and social justice, we are proud to be partnering with Mount Douglas Seniors Housing Society on this project, and commend the society on providing safe, affordable, caring community to seniors,” McMenamie said.

The diocese is a parent organization to the Mount Douglas Seniors Housing Society but it’s the latter, a sustainable non-profit, that came up with the plan to build an additional building. The money will be sourced locally through mortgages and other capital arrangements using Mount Doug Court as leverage, said chair David Cooper, who’s been with society 17 years.

“The society kicked the ball off in partnership with the diocese, ” Cooper said. “We’re mortgage free so we can use the [existing] building as collateral.”

The original vision for Arrow Road was to build a ‘campus of care,’ said Cooper. It would have had three buildings – one for independent living, one for assisted living and one for long-term care. Instead, the green space space of the 4.5-acre property has been used as a garden plot for tenants and a “year round pasture for ungulates.”

Following the society’s decision to study the need for additional seniors housing 10 years, there was soon opposition from the neighbourhood. That opposition led to council’s move to deny the original rezoning and development permit for a four-storey, 100-unit building in 2016. The revised, scaled-back application went to public hearing in February and was approved 8-1.

For Mount Douglas Court resident Lillian Gilbert, 80, the new building is an essential service for seniors.

“I absolutely support the new place. This place is a Godsend,” Gilbert said. “I often think if it wasn’t for a building like this I could be on the street downtown.”

Gilbert came to Victoria from Ontario and was living with her daughter’s family. When that situation unexpectedly changed six years ago, she found herself in need of permanent, affordable shelter, and found that at Arrow Road.

“You don’t count on things happening, you thank God every day for this place,” Gilbert said. “I won’t mind the construction, it’s a small price to pay when you see what good is coming.”

To qualify for the Mount Douglas Court or Manor applicants must be 55 years old, independent and have an income of $30,000 or less. There is currently a two-year wait list at Mount Douglas Court.

Occupancy for Mount Douglas Manor is planned for fall of 2018.

reporter@saanichnews.com