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Townley Lodge residents ‘stressed and frustrated’
As the Greater Victory Housing Society (GVHS) gets ready to host an open house that will help determine the eventual fate of Townley Lodge, residents who currently live there are “stressed and frustrated,” says one of the residents.
“One, this has been going on for so long,” said Victoria Green. “And the other thing, is we don’t know where we are going or whether we are going to be homeless.”
Green made these statements days before today's open house, where the GVHS will present its two options for the re-development of Townley Lodge.
Redevelopment plans for the site halted in late October 2016 when council voted to indefinitely postpone a public hearing for the proposal following concerns from residents who live near the current facility.
Uncertainty has since surrounded the project, uncertainty that the GVHS hopes to ease by meeting with residents before the start of the open house to update them on the project. “Our message to our tenants continues to be that we are working towards a successful rezoning and new development and that we continue to be committed to helping them find a new home,” said Kaye Melliship, executive director last week. “We understand that the uncertainty is hard on them, but the municipal approvals process is lengthy and necessary for us to achieve our goals.”
The public heard last fall that the GVHS was working with residents one-on-one to develop a relocation plan. “The GVHS has over 500 units they operate and they hope to accommodate all tenants within one of their other locations, or alternatively a unit operated by another non-profit agency,” Saanich staff said in a report last October. “If any current tenant wishes to return to this property they would be given the right of first refusal.”
Melliship said later that GVHS has already started rehousing existing tenants in other buildings.
Green acknowledged GVHS’ efforts to accommodate residents, adding that GVHS has accommodated individuals. “However, they have also said there is no guarantee, because they don’t know who is going to move out of where or if the place that they would like you to move is suitable for you,” she said. “If you get a vacancy somewhere and if they think it may suit you, then they will call you to view it.”
Green says she has yet to receive a formal offer to view one of the other facility that GVHS operates. “However, I did go with a neighbour of mine who has a lot of serious health problems…and I was told that if I was interested, they could accommodate me in that building the next vacancy.”
Green however found it unsuitable. “I like to bake and cook, and it basically had no counter,” she said. “You have to do it on the carpet in the living room.”
The location of the building at the intersection of Esquimalt Road and Admirals also appeared unattractive, she said. “And there are number of us, who do not want to live like that,” she said. “We don’t want to live in the middle of traffic.”
Green says these feelings are not merely her own, but also those of neighbours.
“A lot of them have the same feelings,” she said.
Perhaps one of the most “critical” cases is Green’s 90-year-old neighbour Rose, who has been living there for 10 years.
For her, Townley Lodge offers many conveniences including access to Royal Jubilee Hospital, where she undergoes dialysis three times week. “She thought she was going to die here,” said Green.
The thought of moving has caused her friend considerable stress, said Green. “I talk to every day or two and she is crying a lot,” said Green. “Where is she going to go? They have shown her the one place and it is like another country.”
As for Green’s own search, it has proven complex in light of her mobility needs.
"I definitely got my eyes open," she said. "I was going to look at a place the other day, it happened to be on the second floor, and I cannot do stairs."
Financial considerations also play a role. If Green has to look for market housing, she estimates paying $900 per month for a bachelor suite at the low end to a high of $1,200-$1,300 for a single bedroom. "With the little bit of help we get (from subsidized housing) we would still be paying over half of our income in rent if we went to market and it is not a big income to start with."