Mayor Wendal Milne along with two councillors, Rick Kasper and Kerrie Reay, and representatives from Ayre Manor met with officials from Island Health on Friday, November 29 to discuss a possible 56-bed expansion of Ayre Manor.
The need for expansion is real. By late September, there were at least 27 people on the waiting list for complex care, according to Mayor Milne.
Currently, Ayre Manor has 18 Independent Living cottages, 25 one bedroom Assisted Living apartments measuring 550 sq. feet, and 32 Residential Complex Care rooms.
“Our push there was, with Island Health, that … Sooke should be a place where people can age in place, and right now they can’t do that. Ayre Manor has been approved by this current council for a development permit, and if they got … Island Health approval, they could actual create as many as … 56 more beds… immediately — if Island Health agreed to funding that.”
To show their support for this expansion, the current council has waived the development and building fees, “something that no other municipality on Vancouver Island has ever done,” stated Milne. “We think this is crucial, and we’re prepared to make some sacrifices to see this done.”
Currently, such an expansion is being considered for five years down the line, but according to Milne, that’s not soon enough. Sooke needs more beds at Ayre Manor, now.
“They were encouraged by the support the community has given this initiative and they’ve actually, their outreach planning person has agreed to meet with myself sometime in the new year.” They will do a tour of Ayre Manor and speak with various stakeholders.
“They didn’t make any promises, but at least it’s opening a dialogue,” Milne optimistically summed up. “I never get too optimistic but at least we can start a dialogue.”
So what can Sooke residents who want to see expansion happen do to help with the efforts?
“They can write to the Chair of Island Health, they can write to the health ministry, or email them, and say, Look, it’s important that Ayre Manor needs to be expanded,” suggests Milne. Speaking up is a big part of impacting change.