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Central Saanich seniors housing seeks to expand through partnership with developer

Aryze Developments is partnering with Legion Manor Victoria on new affordable seniors housing on the Saanich Peninsula.

Aryze Developments is partnering with Legion Manor Victoria on new affordable seniors housing on the Saanich Peninsula.

The plan would see 195 residential units in two Central Saanich buildings, which would be split into a 133-unit market rental building and a 62-unit complex of affordable seniors housing.

Legion Manor currently provides 146 affordable seniors’ housing units with both independent and assisted living on a five-acre complex. It’s operated by a volunteer board made up of members from Legion branches.

It’s the first foray into seniors’ housing for Aryze, which has also never built in Central Saanich.

“For us, these types of projects are kind of like our dream projects where they’re meant to do community collaborations,” said Aryze principal Luke Mari. “[The Legion Manor] has been amazing to work with. They’re gung-ho entrepreneurs. They want to grow seniors housing and and they’ve just been fantastic partners so far.”

The project, at 1934-66 Hovey Rd. and 7551 East Saanich Rd., will see Aryze build both structures and rent out the larger of the two.

The seniors’ housing component on the east side of the property will be owned and operated by Legion Manor Victoria, which for years has been looking to expand.

Aryze has agreed to sell the land to Legion Manor for below market value.

Mari said the company had acquired three single-family homes beside the seniors’ facility and when consulting with the community about plans for redevelopment, it realized the Legion had been hoping to get the land for its own expansion.

Mari said they decided to work together, and his company managed to acquire two more single-family homes for a five-lot assembly along Hovey Road, which meant two acres for the larger project.

He said they have offered to rezone the entire site and pass on the eastern portion of the land to the Legion.

By doing it that way, Mari said, Legion Manor gets immediate equity from the rezoning, which will strengthen its application to B.C. Housing for funding to build the affordable seniors’ housing component.

“It’s super-collaborative. They’ve given us a program list, we’re designing everything to spec and then at the end of it, if they get their B.C. Housing approval, we just transfer the land, so subdivide it off and we build them a brand new seniors’ facility,” he said.

It’s desperately needed, according to Mari, who has been told Legion Manor has a two- to five-year wait list.

Rod Hughes, Legion Manor president, said in a statement that its development committee has looked at expansion opportunities over the last several years, but nothing has gone forward, as affordable and suitable land in Central Saanich is limited. “Aryze’s approach to sell the land at a discounted price is what has made this expansion possible.”

Aryze hopes to be in front of Central Saanich council in the new year, as the project requires rezoning and amendments to the official community plan.

Mari said so far, the municipality has been welcoming and has identified that area as a site where more intense development will be allowed.

Mari said they have also discussed with Shoreline Medical and the Saanich Peninsula Hospital setting aside some units in the 133-unit rental building as more affordable housing for nearby health-care workers.

aduffy@timescolonist.com