Many Qualicum Beach residents will be anxiously awaiting answers to their questions when they gather to hear the opinions and rationales expressed by the various candidates running for town council in this November’s municipal election.
They will be anxious because the answers could directly affect their chosen or necessary lifestyles as well as their physical and mental welfare.
On Thursday, November 3 at 10 a.m. all municipal candidates will meet with residents and the public at The Gardens in Qualicum Beach to address their questions and concerns. Residents of The Gardens, in particular, will be anxious because the next QB council may well be responsible for decisions made about proposed changes to The Gardens’ interior public areas and residents’ living spaces.
The Gardens has been under new ownership since early this year at which time its residents were assured it would be business as usual. Since that time, the owners, Retirement Concepts (RC), has come up with many drastic proposed changes to the interior of the building.
At meetings with residents and the public, held in July and August, RC’s renovations were soundly rejected by a full house of attendees.
The August meeting brought several concessions from RC to the residents’ concerns. The concessions, however, were overwhelmingly in response to the concerns of The Gardens’ independent residents, addressing very few concerns of the Third (Care) Floor.
Understandably, not many of those residents were able to be present at the meetings to express their concerns, and were thus dependent on friends and family members as well as many supportive independent residents to make their needs known.
Are RC’s lack of considerations and concessions to these residents’ lives because they, through no fault of their own, are less able to stand and defend the quality of their homes?
To date the town council has voted not to change the zoning of The Gardens to allow the proposed changes. (See Bylaw No. 580.64 – Staff Recommendation – Special Council Meeting, July 27, 2011.)
A recent letter from RC to Gardens’ residents and families states the following: “We are putting our expansion plans on hold for the time being to allow us time to properly review the feedback from the various parties and to conduct additional consultation with town staff.”
Most concerned people are reading the letter to mean, “Let’s wait until after the election and see if the new council will see it our way.”
Are all candidates for QB council now familiar with RC’s July and August proposals for The Gardens? Have they seen the proposed plans? Have they read the minutes and reports on the July and August meetings? Have they seen the petitions signed by Gardens’ residents which were delivered to the mayor and all councilors after the August meeting?
Have candidates talked with residents and their friends and family members?
Are they familiar with the original ‘incubation’, planning, and completion of The Gardens itself? Do they know the reasons behind The Gardens’ design and amenities?
Have they considered how the facility fits into the community?
Most important … have candidates considered the wellbeing — physical, mental, and social — of Gardens’ residents, with careful thought for those who depend upon others to defend the only home and amenities they may have?
What are the candidates’ leanings when it comes to drastically decreasing the size of a third floor sun room, a necessary source of natural light and the confined residents’ main window on the world … to make space for more private pay rooms?
What of taking away public celebration and entertainment areas to cram dining tables closer together, and deduct more natural light, so more private pay units can be squeezed within present walls? (quoted from The News, 10/21: “… a lower demand for private pay beds.”)
All these questions and more will be voiced at the November 3 all candidates meeting at The Gardens. We’ll be listening for the answers.
— Nancy Whelan is a regular News columnist and lives in