Saanich chips in $85,000 to repair seniors’ centre

Sylvia Korican, vice-president of Goward House, left, David Eyles, board director, and Gwen McLaws, president of Goward House, stand on the facility
Sylvia Korican, vice-president of Goward House, left, David Eyles, board director, and Gwen McLaws, president of Goward House, stand on the facility's sun deck, which is rotting and must be replaced. Saanich council approved an $85,000 grant to help cover replacement costs, estimated at $130,000.
— image credit: Kyle Slavin/News staff

The view from the expansive sun deck aback of Goward House is impressive – with sight lines looking out over the lush Cadboro Bay property.

But that’s at risk right now as water has rotted away at significant portions of the wooden balcony, leaving it in a state that requires immediate attention.

“We had some soft spots on the deck repaired last March. And when they opened it up to repair them they said, ‘There’s a lot more going on. The problem would be continuing because there’s water trapped in there and it’ll just keep rotting the deck,’” said Elaine Leonard, administrator of Saanich-owned Goward House. “The contractor said we had too much rot to not start from scratch.”

What started as a resurfacing project, estimated at $35,000, ballooned into a full-on replacement project with an estimated price tag of $120,000.

“It’s taken us two-and-a-half years to raise $35,000. We were prepared to go ahead, we had the money set aside, and then we found out it was much bigger,” Elaine Leonard said.

Saanich council approved an $85,000 grant request from Goward House Society in December to help pay for a replacement porch.

“Staff said that the repairs were essential; it’s not something we could postpone till the 2013 budget deliberations (in March),” said Mayor Frank Leonard. “(Staff) were sensitive about it being outside the budget cycle, but they were worried about the risk (of not replacing it immediately).”

The money will come from Saanich’s 2012 contingency budget, usually held for such unknowns as snow removal.

The Goward House administrator says it’s great that council approved the grant request, adding she’s optimistic work on replacing the sun deck could begin in early 2013.

“Because we’re a heritage site, as well, once you decide to something, you must be doing (what it takes) to maintain the look of heritage and bring things to code,” Elaine Leonard said.

Goward House was built in 1908 and sold to Saanich in 1973. It opened as an activity centre for seniors in 1991.

Goward House is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Seniors can take painting, language and exercise classes, or participate in a variety of social activities. For more info, see



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