Oceanside Hospice Society has some big plans

Group is waiting for Qualicum Beach town council to decide on a long-term lease; events planned for next few weeks

Marking Palliative Care Month in Canada this May, The Oceanside Hospice Society (OHS) has a number of events and longer-term projects in the works.

The non-profit society is focusing on making end-of-life support, programs and services known to residents through things like their annual Hike for Hospice this Sunday, May 5, bringing in the Vancouver Welshmen’s Choir May 10 and introducing a unique new “Before I Die I Want To” project to the beach.

Executive director Lynn Wood said they are also eagerly awaiting the response of Qualicum Beach town council to their request for a long-term lease and partnership on their Valhalla House headquarters, which would allow them to start some major improvements.

She said a recent report by the Town of Qualicum Beach found “a number of environmental issues that need to be mitigated,” at an estimated cost of $250,000 to $300,000.

Already straining with a lack of space and looking to an increase in the need for hospice services, OHS had an outside consultant develop some conceptual options from fixing the house, to expanding it or tearing it down and starting again and the board decided, considering the cost of renovation it would be best to knock it down.

In the meantime, they are waiting for town council’s response, which would direct OHS’s next move and decisions based on what they were able to do with the house.

If given the long term lease, Wood said they were ready to go and would begin a more detailed planning and fundraising campaign to build a $1.5 million building that would match the style of the current 1913 house and accommodate future growth.

While they wait the society is undertaking a number of events to encourage people to consider end of life issues now.

They are starting a unique new art project asking the community to share their hopes and dreams about what they want to do before they die.

It is based on an acclaimed project by artist Candy Chang (http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/) which she developed to honour a loved one who died.

Through May there will be two triangular shaped blackboard structures built on the waterfront of Qualicum Beach and Parksville with a template and chalk for people to leave messages. With permission, people will be video taped for a You Tube component of the project.

The society sees it a platform to introduce the value of hospice programs and services to the community about “having the conversation” about your wishes for advanced care and what is important to you.

This weekend, OHS is focused on this weekend’s big hike which starts and ends at Valhalla House at 210 Crescent Road West, Qualicum Beach and loops around town and accommodates people of all fitness levels. Registration starts at 11 a.m., the walk is at noon.

Next weekend, don’t miss the Vancouver Welshmen’s Choir benefit concert, Friday, May 10 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available through hospice and the Coast Realty offices in Parksville and Qualicum Beach.