Tiny turnout leaves town wanting more

Elected representatives from the Town of Lake Cowichan met with community members last week to discuss the future development...

Elected representatives from the Town of Lake Cowichan met with community members last week to discuss the future development of an extended care facility for seniors in the area, but were hoping for a greater turnout. Only seven members of the public showed up for the meeting on Jan. 4 at town hall.

“We were kind of hoping for more people out for the meeting, so we’ll be meeting again,” said mayor Ross Forrest. “We had some good discussion. Everyone realizes the want and need from our community.”

The purpose of the meeting was to get feedback on how the town should proceed with the planning and creation of a seniors care home. For this reason, the town will be hosting a second meeting next week.

“We do want to get a committee formed but we want to have more people there to get that right, to make sure we do everything properly. So we’re not going to rush it,” said Forrest.

The subject of an extended care facility in Lake Cowichan was an important election issue in 2014 according to Forrest, but town council wanted to wait until its Age Friendly Plan was complete before delving into possible plans for an extended care home.

According to a report by van Hemert & Company, the fastest growing age groups in Lake Cowichan and its surround area are those over 75 years and 85 years. And with 32 per cent of the town’s population already over 55, the report estimates that in five years the town will need approximately 100 care beds for residents over the age of 65.

“The disruption in the lives of the elderly moving into a care facility is exacerbated when that facility is not within the same community,” the report notes. “The elderly are further removed from all that is familiar within their community and the frequency and quality of social and family connections is reduced.”

Mayor Forrest said a care home would address these issues directly.

“I know someone in his 90s who drives down to Duncan every day to see his wife,” he said. “We want to avoid that kind of situation.”

The next public meeting will be held on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. at town hall.