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Snug Cove House ready for next step
Every year, seniors are moving away from Bowen Island as the majority of homes consist of single-family dwellings, often on difficult terrain, and many health services are a ferry ride away. But is the move made by choice or from necessity? Graham Ritchie, chair of the Snug Cove House Society, believes that there should be a structure and services in place to allow seniors to stay in the community. The society’s goal is to create safe and supportive housing options as well as complementary services for seniors. To that goal, 1.2 acres next to Bowen Court were purchased in 2004 with funds raised by community members. To build a campus of care facility, part of the property will be subdivided and sold and Ritchie said that “now the way is clear to proceed.”
“Our plan to sell half our land to raise construction funds had been complicated by the worst real estate market on Bowen in 10 years,” Ritchie said, adding that the society had been looking at various combinations of lot numbers and unit types that would improve the odds of selling the market land. “Bowen’s real estate inventory does not include small multi-family lots and it’s proving difficult to estimate their potential value.
“We have contracted for the assistance of an appraisal company familiar with the Bowen market,” Ritchie said. “The society’s building committee volunteers, particularly John Greene and Don Nicolson, have dedicated a considerable amount of their time and expertise to this.”
Ritchie explained that it has now been determined to subdivide the lower part of the property into eight lots - seven are earmarked for duplex units and one will have a single family home on it. In addition to raising funds for Snug Cove House, this will create alternative housing options. “We suspect that some of the lots will be brought by seniors as they will be affordable and close to care,” Ritchie said, adding that clustering of seniors’ housing is likely to attract care services. “If they are scattered in different areas, it is more difficult to get nurses to visit, for instance,” he said. “If [seniors] live close together, that makes it more simple.”
To ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place, Snug Cove House Society has looked at connecting to municipal services as well as alternative options. “A successful well flow test and an opinion from North Shore Health means we can provide our own sewage and water services on our land if we cannot obtain the preferred option – municipal services,” Ritchie said. The funding for the well flow test came from one of the society’s directors who donated a large sum and the Bowen Island Municipality (BIM). Ritchie also acknowledged BIM’s contribution in the form of the grant covering land taxes.
In addition to private and municipal funding, the Snug Cove House Society received a financial contribution from a fundraising initiative spear-headed by the Knick Knack Nook.
“The board of Snug Cove House Society is most grateful to the hard-working board and volunteers of the Knick Knack Nook who raised over $10,000 towards the seniors’ residence with a successful auction of selected and often lovingly renovated items donated to the Nook,” Ritchie said. “The wonderful folks at Digitally Hip continued their support of our project with an online bidding addition to the website which greatly added to the auction’s public profile.”
Another initiative organized by the Snug Cove House Society provides dining options for seniors and Ritchie wanted to acknowledge the work of April Sear, Sharon Haggerty, Murray Atherton and David Sharrock for their work as well as dining establishments and food suppliers that are offering generous discounts to seniors.
He believes Snug Cove House Society is ready for the next step: the subdivision of the property and with that, 2013 can see a substantial move forward in the realization of the society’s goals.