Lake Cowichan residents have again urged their town council to find some way to bring a seniors extended care facility to the west Cowichan community.
The subject comes up almost every time council sits down with the public and it was raised again at the Nov. 30 town hall meeting at Centennial Hall.
During a wide ranging discussion of many topics, a local woman asked about assisted living for seniors.
“We need it. We’ve been looking at being an age-friendly community. That study is completed but what about securing an extended living facility for Lake Cowichan?” she asked, and others said that many Lake residents are concerned that their family members have to leave their community and sometimes go a long way off to get a residential care bed.
Mayor Ross Forrest said that it will become an even greater concern in future as by 2030 the number of people over 65 in Lake Cowichan is estimated to be 2,304, a huge percentage of the population.
“There is a need here. It’s something we’d like to see. Early in the new year, we want to form a committee, like Choose Cowichan Lake, to start work on getting an extended care facility,” he said.
David Lowther, who lives in nearby Mesachie Lake but said he considers Lake Cowichan to be his town centre, voiced the concerns of many.
“I don’t want to end up in Chemainus. If I go out in a wheelchair, I want to see people I know. On top of that, a 30-bed facility will mean 70-100 full time jobs which translates into lots of people coming to town to live. This is one idea that we as a community should really be onto council about,” he said.
Areas like Qualicum Beach are already way ahead on that front, according to Lowther.
“There are businesses that are involved in building long term care facilities. We need to approach them,” he said.
“This is our community. People do want to stay here. But,” he warned, “even if you have the interest, it will take a lot of work and money to get this.”
Forrest was also asked if the town had ever been contacted by anyone who wants to build an extended care facility and he replied that no approaches had been made.
Another person, a small business owner, said, “People need to get behind this and stop turning things away. Everybody wants stuff but they don’t want anybody to make any money. That part has to change.”
When it comes to gathering funding, a local woman said the town might want to consider that fundraisers for construction of the University of Victoria drilled so deep into the community that Saanich school children were sent out collecting money door to door for the facility.
Finally, a man said that other communities must have similar problems with the glut of retirees moving to Vancouver Island.
“They’re coming anyway. But we need to find ways to reach out, to attract younger people to come here. What have other people in other areas done?” he asked.
Forrest said that Lake Cowichan council has been invited to Qualicum Beach to take a look at what they are doing in a similar situation.