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New gym will bring new opportunities at Nigel House

Quinten Kocoy makes the best use he can of the limited exercise equipment at Nigel House to keep up his strength — but there is only so much that can be accomplished with just a set of parallel bars and a stationary bike.
Quinten Kocoy, with Nigel House’s resident dog, Finley, is looking forward to having a fully equipped, purpose-built gym at the new Nigel House building. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Quinten Kocoy has multiple sclerosis and was injured in a serious fall in 2017, and is dedicated to working out to improve his strength and mobility.

The 57-year-old Nigel House resident, who often uses a power wheelchair, makes the best use he can of the limited exercise equipment at the complex-care facility run by the Broadmead Care Society — but there is only so much that can be accomplished with just a set of parallel bars and a stationary bike.

A new complex to replace the aging Nigel House is currently under construction at a site right next door, and will include a fully equipped, purpose-built gym.

It will replace an existing “gym” that is actually part of a catch-all area also used as a television and computer room and a space for folding laundry.

The space’s shortcomings are a prime example of the need for a new building to replace the existing one, which dates back to the 1970s. Even upgrades made in the 1990s at the Saanich facility are past their prime.

Kocoy gets around the gym’s limitations by taking the Nigel House bus to work out twice a week at the Pearkes Recreation Centre, and said he is determined to keep making progress with his physical abilities.

“I’m going to walk out of this place,” he said matter-of-factly.

Fitness has been a part of his life for a long time, Kocoy said. “I used to be a boxing champion in Saskatchewan, that’s where I’m from.”

Along with his regular workouts, the former construction worker makes use of his fighting skills by taking part in a boxing class offered at Nigel House, said recreation therapist Rob Richter.

“He hits the pads,” Richter said. “He gives ‘er.”

Kocoy is one of the more independent Nigel House residents, Richter said, and enjoys heading out on his own to nearby Uptown.

“He likes his outings,” he said. “We took him to Rifflandia this year and Ribfest, he was into that.”

Richter said Kocoy’s rehabilitation efforts will get a real boost at the new facility, due for completion in April 2025.

But there will be much more to it than that, he said. “The main thing, I think, for the new facility is hope.”

Right now, a few of the 26 residents have to share rooms, but everyone will be on their own in the new place, Richter said.

“That’s going to be a huge thing for them,” he said. “Just the hope of the future — you can see the building going up now. We can see every day that there’s stuff happening, which is really encouraging for the residents.”

Kocoy said he is excited to have a new destination on the horizon.

“It’s going to be nice,” he said.

Just like the existing location, there will be round-the-clock care for a group of people with a range of circumstances in their lives that have led to a significant disability.

Some have had serious accidents, while others have a birth anomaly or a neurological disease.

Staff is committed to caring for them in a home-like environment.

The future Nigel House will be considerably bigger, with six storeys instead of the current two and room for a total of 41 residents. There will also be 37 assisted-living units and 10 affordable-housing units in the $45-million structure.

A previous fundraising campaign for the project has reached its $3-million goal, and there is now a further effort to raise $1.4 million the furnishings, fixtures and equipment that will make the building as complete and functional as possible.

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