Dementia group wonders if town-owned house no longer available

Town says use by refugees would be short term and house still available for groups longer term though an EOI process

The day after Qualicum Beach town council announced its intention to help bring a Syrian refugee family to a town-owned home at 161 Sunningdale Road, The NEWS was contacted by a woman confused about the process.

“We’re a little shocked, we thought we were moving toward a dementia-friendly community,” said Deanna Breuker who thought she was in the middle of an expression of interest (EOI) proses, proposing to use the vacant house for a dementia day program. “Why are they wasting everyone’s time if they already decided?”

Town Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland said the EOI process is ongoing, explaining that using the house for a refugee family would be a temporary use, approximately one year. The EOI is addressing the long-term use of the house, a process that would likely take about a year.

Sailland said staff are in discussions with a total of seven groups or individuals with proposals for the house and/or the recently vacated downtown fire hall.

Sailland agreed the house did seem a good fit for the dementia program, but that council will choose a proposal, with public input.

Breuker she said the program idea was her own initiative, based on similar programs in Parksville and many other communities, and she wanted to get the process started before she put too much work into forming a formal group.

She said there appeared to be a lot of support for dementia issues at a Dec. 1 seminar attended by several staff and council members.

She said the house would be perfect for a dementia day program, with a wheelchair accessible washroom and close proximity to downtown and highlighted recent statistical projections that dementia diagnoses could double by 2020.

There will be a public information meeting on sponsoring a refugee family Monday, January 25, 4 to 6 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.

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