Some Qualicum Beach town councillors feel that a new development proposal for the high-profile one-acre lot next to town hall would benefit more than just retirees.
The Berwick Retirement Communities application was given first reading, referred to the Advisory Planning Commission and referred to the Nov. 30 committee of the whole meeting at Monday’s council meeting.
At the beginning of the council meeting, Chris Denford, who was representing Berwick Qualicum Beach, said the 94-unit multi-residential development is geared toward more active seniors.
“An early misconception was our development proposal is a care facility, such as others in the town, in fact our proposal is geared toward more active independent seniors,” Denford said, adding that the central location would allow the residents to access all of what Qualicum Beach has to offer.
While the average age of Berwick residents, which has numerous facilities on the Island, is in the mid-80s, Denford said the youngest resident was a 52-year-old.
Coun. Barry Avis said that he while he thought the proposed building and all of its amenities were a plus, he also said it could be appeal to someone in their 40s who wants to move into the heart of the town.
“I see this as a facility that’s possibly not just for seniors. I’m not sure if the developer — I think Berwick is a wonderful company — if they thought of it that way, that this would be a great spot for anyone to live in,” Avis said.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek said a mix of demographics would be good.
“If people have a need, for whatever reason, to live there, I think that would be good to find out if they could or not.”
Coun. Neil Horner said he thought it would be nice to have a daycare in the facility that was run by the seniors living there.
“I think that everyone would win,” Horner said. “The kids would love it, the seniors would love it and we’d actually get some more daycare in town.”
Coun. Anne Skipsey said she has already approached Berwick Retirement Communities about the possibility of a daycare because of her desire to create intergenerational opportunities.
“In my mind, it would go a long way to offset some of those concerns about our negativity about having our town getting older,” Skipsey said.
The 94-unit development would include 9 studio units, 72 one-bedroom units and 14 two-bedroom units.
There would also be other amenities including a health and fitness room, bar, rooftop greenhouse and a games area.
Denford said that after a few months of public engagement meetings, they already have a list of 40 people who would be interested in moving in.
Also at Monday’s council meeting, they announced the following volunteers for the 2016-17 Offical Community Plan Review steering committee: Tracy Hardy, Louella Hollington, Pat Jacobson, Mandolyn Jonasson, Lance Nater, Kevin Monahan, Tim Pritchard, Scott Rodway, Jeannie Shaver, Jared Shaw and Katherine Wilk.
Council also announced Linda Stock was appointed as a member-at-large for the select committee on Environment and Sustainability.
The next council meeting is Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.