Demolition of Oak Bay Lodge to start in the first three months of 2021

Demolition of the Oak Bay Lodge is expected to start in the first three months of next year, in conjunction with a community consultation process reviewing possibilities for the nearly four-acre site.

A project manager to oversee deconstruction and demolition of the four-storey facility at 2251 Cadboro Bay Rd. should be signed early in 2021, says a recent Capital Regional Hospital District report.

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The district, which owns the now-vacant building, has allocated $10 million for lodge demolition and redevelopment in 2021-2022, including a $1.4-million budget for hazardous materials removal and demolition.

Built in 1970, the 235-bed facility provided care for seniors until it was emptied this year when residents moved into the new Summit building on Hillside Avenue.

The contractor’s job includes hiring an arborist to identify all the trees on the site, which contains cultivated gardens as well as native species.

The contractor also has to ensure the site is clean, tidy and safe, and provide dust screens, barriers and warning signs where needed, along with around-the-clock security.

Efforts by housing advocates to convert part of the building for temporary use by seniors without a home have failed to date. The goal was to help find shelter for some of the campers living in parks or elsewhere outdoors.

One reason cited was the building’s condition. A September report to the district board said an assessment found that it is “past its useful life and remediation would equal or exceed the costs of building a new facility.”

It does not have suitable showers, its balconies are unsafe and the elevator is a concern, said the report, which said demolition would be necessary for either redevelopment or sale of the property to realize the greatest value.

B.C. Housing, which is spearheading the push to line up housing for those in need, said in an August letter it recommends finding other facilities that would meet its deadlines for providing temporary housing.

An extensive process is planned to gather community input on what should happen on the property, which is in midst of an established residential area. Consultation is also planned with Island Health on the most viable health services for the site. Consultation is expected to include a new website, virtual open houses and small-group meetings.

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