Robert Jarvis is a senior support care worker at Cedar Grove, a supportive housing complex run by the Cool Aid Society. The site is due for a massive renovation, but construction can’t start until the 22 residents have somewhere to go. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Cool Aid struggles to find temporary housing for Cedar Grove residents

Renovations can’t start at 210 Gorge Rd. E. until homes are found

On the corner of Gorge Road East and Caroll Street are two old, blue buildings that used to be a motel. They now serve as Cedar Grove, a 22-unit supportive housing complex for Victoria’s Cool Aid Society that will soon receive a $17.5 million renovation.

While funding and rezoning applications are still being processed, the society says the largest obstacle to get shovels in the ground goes beyond paperwork.

“The thing that will slow us down before money is being able to find a suitable location for our 22 tenants,” said Alan Rycroft, community relations manager for Cool Aid. “Renovictions happen all over Victoria… but Cool Aid isn’t going to make anyone homeless.”

The renovation will transform the complex from motel remnants to a new complex of 32 supportive housing units and 50 affordable housing units.

The tenants are made up of six women and 16 men, who need varying degrees of support for issues ranging from poverty to addictions and mental health challenges. Each resident currently pays $375 per month in rent.

READ MORE: Sisters of St. Ann’s $450,000 donation will help Cool Aid build more housing

In order to keep the tenants feeling like they belong in a community, Cool Aid’s largest priority is to keep them together when they move, and because of the varied resources for low-income individuals in Victoria, the ideal location would also be near the downtown core.

“It’s really hard, because the market is tough in real estate,” Rycroft said.

While many avenues have been explored, at this point no strong contenders have come forward. Rycroft is hoping that perhaps Cool Aid could rent out an entire floor of a large building, but realizes the potential for problems are not dissimilar to those found at their current location.

The motel-style entryways into each apartment give Cool Aid little control over who goes in and out of the buildings, Rycroft said. It’s one component of the current setup that’s caused many tenants and neighbours distress.

ALSO READ: Captured in time: Cool Aid unveils photos from its 50 years of history

“It’s pretty rowdy here sometimes. Police are here constantly dealing with people, and every once in awhile there’s a bug infestation,” said Darren, a Cedar Grove resident who only wanted to provide his first name.

Darren has lived at Cedar Groves for five years on disability, and said that while he sticks to himself, he knows that most of the issues don’t actually come from residents.

“A lot of people come in here who don’t actually live here, and transfer the bugs… It’s mostly those people who cause the problems,” he said.

The new design is slated to have a single entryway that requires people to be buzzed in. This would also help senior supportive housing worker Robert Jarvis keep track of the activity at Cedar Grove.

“We’re trying to give people the privacy they want, but at the same time monitor what’s going on,” Jarvis said. “It has its challenges.”

Once a new, temporary home has been established for Cedar Grove residents, Cool Aid will pay for the move, maintain their current rent rate and give tenants priority for the right to refusal once the new facility is ready. Tenants will also continue to pay the same rent in the new building.

When asked if he’d consider moving back to Cedar Groves after the two-year construction period was complete, Darren was hesitant, saying a lot could happen in two years.

ALSO READ: Cool Aid’s renovated ex-hotel offers opportunities, more living space

“It’s an option, but I don’t know if I’ll be in a position to move again when that time comes around,” he said. “But, I’d definitely look into it.”

Cedar Grove is still in the approval process, but has received funding from some levels of government, as well as a private $450,000 donation from the Sisters of Saint Ann’s. On Thursday, the City of Victoria voted to put $600,000 toward the proposed 50 affordable housing units with a caveat that all zoning applications must be approved before funding is received.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

cool aidHomeless

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patrick brothers who shaped modern hockey also tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

Victoria man to run marathon after overcoming rare cancer diagnosis

Nigel Deacon was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2010

Burger sales bring in $5,000 to build Imagination Libraries in Greater Victoria

United Way of Greater Victoria and Big Wheel Burger team up to get kids reading

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Saanich for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

Donated sculpture in Sidney’s Beacon Park a testament to perseverance

Victoria artist Armando Barbon picked up sculpting 22 years ago

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read