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New affordable-housing project for seniors in Lake Cowichan inches forward

Construction of Lakewood Manor expected to begin within a year
Don Beldessi, co-chairman of the Cowichan Lake Elder Care Society, said construction on the new Lakewood Manor could begin within a year. (File photo)

The Cowichan Lake Elder Care Society is hoping to have construction of its long-anticipated affordable housing project for seniors on Renfrew Avenue started within a year.

The society’s co-chairman Don Beldessi said it’s anticipated that the cost of Lakewood Manor, a 30-unit, possibly four-storey facility, will be approximately $9 million, and the society has applied for a $3-million federal grant to help cover some of the costs.


He said $75,000 in seed money for the project has been received from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and another $25,000 from the Cowichan Housing Association, to help pay for some of the preliminary work on the project, like architectural drawings and other technical matters.

On March 24, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s regional services committee recommended to the district’s board that $175,000 be granted to the Cowichan Lake Elder Care Society to help pay for some of the capital costs of the project.

If the board gives the green light, the funding will come from the CVRD’s housing trust fund, which was approved by the district’s taxpayers in a referendum during the last municipal elections.

The funds collected by the HTF, which is set at a maximum of $756,000 per year, are meant to be used by the Cowichan Housing Association to provide capital contributions to affordable rental housing projects and support project-development activities that lay the foundation for affordable housing developments that are approved by the CVRD.


“If we get that funding, we intend to use it to pay for a stray piece of land that we need that is adjacent to the lot and a half given to us by the Town of Lake Cowichan,” Beldessi said.

“Some of the rest will be used for some of our ‘due-diligence’ work, including having an engineering firm coming here next week to help us plan for the manor’s sewer systems.”

As for the rest of the required funding for the facility, Beldessi said the society will likely have to take out a big mortgage on it.

“We’re still waiting to see if we can get charity status, and we’ll begin some major fundraising if we do,” he said.

“Once construction begins, we expect to have the project completed somewhere between six months and a year.”

Beldessi, who is also the manager of Evergreen Place, one of only two senior-housing facilities currently in the town, said Lakewood Manor is extremely necessary in Lake Cowichan.

“We have a waiting list of 35 people at Evergreen Place, and receive about five phone calls a week from people looking to live there,” he said.

“Olson Manor [the other facility] also has a long waiting list because so many people need this type of housing right now. It’s a terrible situation.”

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