The province has paid $9.3 million for the recently shuttered Tally-Ho hotel on Douglas Street to provide housing for 52 people with low-to-moderate incomes and mental-health or addiction issues.
The 2.5-acre property was valued at $5,145,000 by the B.C. Assessment Authority last year.
The Victoria Cool Aid Society will own and operate the site, which operated as a hotel at 3020 Douglas St. for almost 56 years and has “great long-term potential” for a larger mixed-use development, said chief executive officer Kathy Stinson.
“It’s a very exciting day for Cool Aid,” she said. The priority tenants will be 50 formerly homeless people living at the Choices transitional shelter in View Royal.
“We expect it will be fall before people move in,” Stinson said. “It will need some renovations, but not a lot.”
The building has a restaurant and a professional kitchen able to provide the residents with two meals a day and will be staffed around the clock, she added.
The funding is welcome, she said. “Certainly, our shelters are operating at capacity,” she said, “so having added permanent options in our community is very important. … We’re really grateful to B.C. Housing and the province — they’re showing great faith in us.”
The Tally-Ho site is not the only expansion on Cool Aid’s plate. It hopes to open two more floors of housing at the Mount Edwards Court facility on Vancouver Street, currently home to 38 formerly homeless people who are over 50.
B.C. Housing bought the site for $3.6 million in February 2016 as part of a $26-million investment in housing for people staying at the tent city behind the Victoria courthouse. The camp was shut down last summer.
The Tally-Ho purchase is part of $65 million announced Friday to support the creation of 364 units of affordable rental housing for people with mental-health issues or addictions.
Included are 40 units in Campbell River, where the M’akola Housing Society will own and operate the former Travelodge at 340 South Island Hwy., purchased for $5.1 million. Its most recent B.C. Assessment Authority value is $1.47 million.
“Providing stable housing is an important part of supporting those with mental health and substance abuse issues,” said Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for housing. “This increase in housing is an example of the importance of partnership between the province, non-profit housing providers and communities.”
Former Tally-Ho co-owner Wayne Hopkins and his partners bought the hotel in 2011 out of receivership for $4.2 million and put about $1 million into upgrades. Its neighbours are Metro Toyota and an office building housing the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.
Gillian Ley said the Tally-Ho site, in a business zone outside of the downtown core, is more suitable location than Mount Edwards Court, which is near an elementary school in a residential neighbourhood.
“The Liberals are throwing a lot of money around and little is being done to help the chronic addictions and mental illness that most of these residents suffer from,” said Ley, who lives near Mount Edwards Court.
“The Liberals’ Housing First strategy is not working as proven … in facilities like 844 Johnson St., basically an indoor tent city in Victoria where it is almost impossible to become well in these environments. Neighbourhoods are being destroyed and people are not being helped.”