Coun. Tim McGonigle

Coun. Tim McGonigle

Vision for Cowichan Lake seniors care facility to be shaped by local citizens

Lake Cowichan residents who have to travel to Duncan and beyond to visit an elderly family member

Lake Cowichan residents who have to travel to Duncan and beyond to visit an elderly family member may want to attend the upcoming meeting on a seniors facility for the lake region.

On March 31, members of the public are invited to join an interim steering committee at the Lake Cowichan Christian Fellowship church to further explore the possibility of getting a seniors care facility in this area.

“We believe it’s a very underserved area in that way,” said Ted Gamble, interim committee chairman.

“We know of people who are having to travel to Victoria, Nanaimo, Chemainus and that sort of thing to see their loved ones. And on a daily basis, that’s very taxing.”

Gamble said he believes the lake has a sufficient population to support a seniors care facility, and pointed to the age friendly plan developed by the Town of Lake Cowichan last fall.

According to this study, the number of people over 75 in Lake Cowichan will increase from 392 in 2011 to 1,439 in 2041.

Just how the proposed care facility will be structured has yet to be determined, which is why Gamble is urging everyone from the community to get involved in the planning process.

“Anyone that’s wanting to participate in the discussion [should come],” he said. “We are looking at all options.”

Those options include home care, assisted living (for people who can still direct their own care but get some assistance from a community health worker) or long-term care (for people who can no longer support their own daily living activities).

Town councillor Tim McGonigle, who sits as a liaison between the committee and the Town of Lake Cowichan, said the majority of respondents to the town’s age-friendly survey expressed a desire for some kind of seniors facility in the area.

“We can’t automatically reach out and have a facility built here in the next year,” he said. “I envision it as a five to 10 year process, and I think with the committee it will be an evolving committee, changing over time as new people come on and others drop out.”

McGonigle said the interim steering committee felt the process should not be political but rather publicly driven, which is why he sits only as a liaison to council.

“When and if questions come forwards on finances or land, I will be removing myself from those discussions so there is no conflict,” he said, also noting there is no reason the facility could not be located in Honeymoon Bay or Youbou.

“The west Cowichan region is what we’re looking at… It could be anywhere,” he said.

McGonigle echoed the chairperson’s sentiments about the need for diverse committee members and volunteers, and said he hopes the March 31 meeting will be well attended.

“We’ll be looking at different factions and subcommittees like fundraising, facility, communications, so anyone with an interest in that sort of thing would be an asset to the committee,” he said.

“It wouldn’t mean you had to be on the executive per se. So the commitment will be as much as you’re willing to engage.”