Back in March 2007, the sod was finally turned for the long-awaited Ayre Manor Lodge. After more than 40 years, the elderly residents of Sooke would finally be getting a campus of care allowing seniors to age in the place they have called home.
Five years later, the facility is at maximum and the Sooke Elderly Citizens Housing Society (SECHS) are looking to expand.
“We have been working for two years on expansion plans,” said Sandy Pedneault, chair of SECHS.
She said they are looking to build 56 beds in a four-storey building. Currently there are 32 complex care beds in a wing at Ayre Manor Lodge. Ayre Manor was funded through Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and 40 years of unstoppable efforts by SECHS.
The society bought land in 1968 and in 1972 opened the first six unit cottages. In 1978 they opened six more, and in 1984 another six. In 2008 Ayre Manor Lodge opened with 32 complex care bed and 25 assisted living units.
Preliminary plans have been drawn up for the new 56-bed facility and they are waiting for a RFP.
Pedneault said the cost for the new care facility is less than $10-million.
“Our original building was $2-million under budget at $15-million.
She said they had already planned for expansion back in 2007 with a larger than necessary kitchen, infrastructure such as water, wider roads, etc. Ayre Manor currently employs 40 full and part-time people and it is expected that close to an equal number of new employees will be hired for the expanded care facility.
Now, says Pedneault, seniors living in the Sooke community can go from independent living to assisted living to complex care. She said all of the bed/units have to be full to make it a viable operation. But it doesn’t always happen so easily as many seniors are placed in other facilities further from Sooke and once places they are “crossed off the list” by VIHA. Pedneault wants to see seniors from Sooke get placed in Sooke. This new facility would help.
“VIHA is still looking at 320 beds in the Western communities and we’re out here too,” she said.
SECHS is ready to apply for a Development Permit and once funding is in place they can again turn the sod on a new care facility.
“It can be built in one year, the zoning, everything is in place already,” said Pedneault. “Well, we’re hoping.”
SECHS was before District of Sooke council to get a letter of support from council. They would be eligible for relief of Development Cost Charges of $228,230.80.