Cool Aid unveils plans for housing on Tally-Ho Hotel site

A redevelopment plan to turn the old Tally-Ho Hotel and adjacent land into mixed commercial space and social housing was unveiled Saturday.

Victoria Cool Aid Society officials unveiled a poster display of plans to redevelop the 2.3 acres, stretching from the site of the former Tally-Ho Hotel, 3020 Douglas St., to the adjacent property facing Burnside Road East at the back of the hotel.

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The plan includes 52 units of supportive housing for people in dire need, such as alcoholics and narcotics users. These units would be in a facility supervised round the clock, seven days a week, with meals provided.

A separate area would have 92 units of affordable housing. These would be apartments, bachelors to two-bedroom suites, with rents up to about 80 per cent of market rent. Also planned is a daycare centre and commercial space, possibly a health clinic or a small grocery store.

It’s hoped construction can start within the next three years, giving Cool Aid time to pursue rezonings and permits.

Don McTavish, Cool Aid director of residential services, said the presentation was about letting people know what’s planned for the site and calm some community nervousness.

“Supportive housing does not have a negative effect on neighbourhoods,” McTavish said. “Homelessness, of course, does.”

Last month, 52 people, formerly living at Choices Transitional Home, at the old Youth Correctional Centre in View Royal, moved into Tally-Ho, now renovated to become supportive housing operated by Cool Aid. Those residents will be moved into the new development when it’s completed.

The old Tally-Ho and the land were purchased in April last year with $9.3 million from the provincial government. The province then turned the operation over to Cool Aid, which completed the renovations.

The social services agency operates 17 sites of social housing around the Greater Victoria.

Redevelopment of the 2.3 acres on the Tally-Ho site is expected to happen in two phases.

The first phase, with supportive and affordable housing and some commercial spaces, would be on the land facing Burnside Road East. The second phase would be on the land facing Douglas Street; the old Tally-Ho building will not be touched until residents living there are moved into the new development.

Ultimately, the old hotel will likely be demolished in the second phase a new building will mostly be commercial space.

Deanna Bhandar, director of real estate service for Cool Aid, said redeveloping such a site which such a mixture of uses and housing will be big step for the organization. Bhandar noted it will be new for Cool Aid to step into developing so much commercial space.

It’s also new for Cool Aid, she said, to offer such a range of social housing and supports on one site, from closely supervised supportive housing to more independent living units set up as affordable housing.

“Developing this whole range of housing is a fantastic opportunity for Cool Aid,” Bhandar said.

“We’ll be able to move people up through a continuum of housing. They can potentially move from supportive housing to more independent housing arrangements.”

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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