A rendering of the newly announced property at 210 Gorge Rd. E., which will host affordable housing units built in partnership between Victoria’s Cool Aid Society and the Sisters of St. Ann. (File contributed)

Sisters of St. Ann’s $450,000 donation will help Cool Aid build more housing on Gorge Rd.

Funds will go towards replacing the Cedar Grove supportive housing complex

Victoria’s Cool Aid Society and the Sisters of St. Ann have partnered in a celebration of anniversaries to create something new.

For the Sisters’ 160th anniversary, a $450,000 donation was made towards Cool Aid – which is celebrating its 50th anniversary – to rebuild an affordable housing complex at 210 Gorge Rd. E. known as Cedar Grove. The Sisters received the money after selling a Victoria property that previously housed some of their members.

“That’s been part of our mission all of these years, we help those in need,” said providence co-leader of the Sisters of St. Ann, Sister Joyce Harris. “We’ve worked with Cool Aid in trying to move forward affordable housing for folks, so the Sisters overwhelmingly voted that this is where the money should go.”

RELATED: Cool Aid’s renovated ex-hotel offers opportunities, more living space

The massive sum is the largest Cool Aid has ever received from a private donor.

“We are so grateful to the Sisters for choosing to invest this money into us,” said Cool Aid CEO Kathy Stinson. She added that Cool Aid has owned to property for several years and always wanted to upgrade it. “It’s been on the dream list for many years, so when we have this kind of amazing support from the Sisters and the government, it really helps move it from a dream to reality.”

A rendering of the newly announced property at 210 Gorge Road East, which will host affordable housing units built in partnership with Victoria’s Cool Aid Society and the Sisters of St. Ann. (File contributed)

Cool Aid has operated the former motel since 2006, and converted it to act as a supportive housing complex with 21 units. The new Cedar Grove will be a mixed-use complex with 82 units. Thirty-two of those will be supportive housing units for people experiencing homelessness, and the other 50 will be affordable suites which will take the form of 30 studios, 1o two-bedroom and 10 one-bedroom units.

The six-storey building will offer spaces ranging from 350 to 700 square feet to accommodate the needs of single low-income residents, to seniors and young families.

ALSO READ: ‘We could fill 10 Cottage Groves,’ says Cool Aid CEO about new seniors building

“We recognize that if a person has a home, that person is likely to be able to look after other concerns or issues in their lives,” Harris said. “These folks are really able to become contributing members to society … it’s really exciting to be part of this project.”

While the Sisters’ donation was monumental, a majority of funding also came from the provincial and federal governments to help meet the $18 million bill.

A rendering of the newly announced property at 210 Gorge Road East, which will host affordable housing units built in partnership with Victoria’s Cool Aid Society and the Sisters of St. Ann. (File contributed)

The building needs final approval from the City after it’s been put up for public discussion, but Stinson said that once all is cleared, construction will hopefully start in late winter 2019.

Once construction starts, Stinson said current Cedar Grove residents will be moved to other supportive housing space, though an exact location has yet to be determined.

“We want to move people as a group, so hopefully we can find a blanket lease,” she said.

The new Cedar Grove is scheduled to open its doors in late 2020.

For more information about Cedar Grove you can head to the Cool Aid website at coolaid.org.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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