Sooke residents got an opportunity to get a detailed peek at plans and provide feedback for The Gathering Place, an activity centre for seniors and youth in Sooke, proposed for land next to the new library on Wadams Way.
Sooke Coun. Jeff Bateman took a moment at the Open House at Edward Milne Community School on Friday to say he believes the project is well-positioned for success.
“I’m very impressed with the plans,” said Bateman, a member of the district’s age-friendly committee who’s been involved in the process since 2019. “A referendum in 2014 showed that 85 per cent of respondents support the project.”
The Gathering Place is part of plans for a four to five-storey facility with about 80 rental suites for seniors. It includes a drop-in centre for all seniors in Sooke, space for activities, crafting and socializing, a youth/inter-generational component, and would be available to rent for larger community events.
The Sooke Region Communities Health Network (SRCHN), the driving force behind the project, launched a $2-million fundraising campaign in April. The District of Sooke has allocated $267,000 for The Gathering Place and provided a 100-year lease for the land.
The district released $100,00 in April to SRCHN to pursue funding through an application to the Federation of Canadian Green Municipal Affordable Housing Stream.
SRCHN board chair Mary Dunn said the open house provides an excellent opportunity for the SRCHN to share their vision with the community.
“We want to connect and get the community involved in what it will look like, what programs will be available and increase support for getting it built,” Dunn said.
“The $100,000 in funding from the district went toward a zero-emission plan for the project will enhance the potential for funding from B.C. Housing, the federal government and other agencies,” Dunn noted in an earlier interview with the Sooke News Mirror.
Paul Rigby, a partner and architect with FaulknerBrowns Architects, said bringing different community uses together in one place to benefit the community as a whole can create a tremendous intergenerational future.
Wiser projects development consultant Kaeley Wiseman said they are working toward net-zero-ready energy performance and a “very high level of accessibility” throughout the facility.
“The District of Sooke’s support as we move toward the development permit process has been tremendous,” she said.
Andrew Moore has been involved with the SRCHN project team since the early days.
“As an architect specializing in co-operative housing, we’re looking at a unique Canadian example of affordable rental co-op housing,” he said. “I’m impressed with the design. It will be a real asset in the town centre where elders can walk everywhere for whatever they need. The fact it will be an inter-generational project is very significant. Research in the region shows this model works very well.”
Visit sookegatheringplace.ca for more information or to donate.