Despite having the oldest per capita population in the country, Qualicum Beach only has one palliative care bed. However, that appears likely to change.
The potential to increase the number of spaces for those in the final stages of life comes as town council this week held a public hearing and then passed third reading of a rezoning proposal at Qualicum Manor at 124 Fourth Ave. East that would allow the expansion of the facility to include a medical office and other uses.
Currently, the seniors facility’s zoning does not allow medical offices, but, said town planner Paul Butler in a report to council Monday night, the owners wish to have a medical office on the premises as part of their application to the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) for funding to establish palliative care and respite care at the facility.
The proposal involves a two-storey, 178 square metre addition to the three-storey manor, which was completed in the spring of 2006.
Because of the lot size, the parking requirement of 24 stalls cannot be met, with only 13 stalls available. In his report, Butler suggested the proposed clinic would not increase the need for parking, although he suggested a maximum stay for on-street parking should be considered. In order to go ahead, the setback requirements would also need to be relaxed.
The public hearing saw no submissions and council later passed third reading.
Commenting on the issue, Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek said the move seemed a natural fit for the town.
“We only have one palliative care bed, in Eagle Park,” he said. “It would be good to have more. It’s a good approach.”
Coun. Kent Becker agreed.
“We’ve had a number of incidences where a patient has to go to Nanaimo and the other elderly spouse has a lot of difficulty seeing their husband or wife. Additional beds would be the best news I’ve heard in quite a while.”
Council passed third reading unanimously and the rezoning bylaw will be voted on for final adoption at the June 22 special council meeting.