Salt Spring Hospital Delays Hotel Purchase to Give Agencies Time to Find Tenants’ Housing

Amid severe housing shortage, Lady Minto Foundation purchases hotel to house hospital staff

Approximately 20 people staying at Seabreeze Inne on Salt Spring Island will still have a home for Christmas and through mid-February.

The Lady Minto Hospital Foundation, which acquires the hotel to address a severe staff housing shortage, is delaying its possession date until Feb. 15, hoping it will donate to the province and service agencies local communities more time to find alternative housing for residents.

The $ 4 million deal between the hospital foundation and hotel owner Bob Ma was due to be concluded by Dec.31, but the foundation extended its timeline for refurbishment, pushing back the date of possession.

This allowed BC Housing to continue renting the building as accommodation space for another two months while it explores other housing options for residents.

Adam Olsen, MP for Saanich North and the Islands, said he was grateful the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation has deferred possession. “Housing is incredibly difficult in Salt Spring, and it will give government and non-government agencies time to find suitable housing for those who may be displaced by the sale of the hotel,” he said.

Salt Spring Island Community Services had wanted to buy the Seabreeze with funding from BC Housing, but the government agency chose not to buy the property after leasing it on three-month contracts since the start of the pandemic.

The Seabreeze was then released as a hotel. It was then that the hospital foundation mobilized to make an offer to purchase the property for staff housing. Lady Minto Hospital is struggling to fill 30 vacancies – from cleaning staff and cooks to technicians and nurses – on an island where any kind of available accommodation is extremely scarce. The hospital foundation plans to convert the 28 rooms of the Seabreeze into 14 to 16 rental apartments for the staff.

“The option was to either let the Seabreeze revert to tourist accommodation or try to keep it as a community housing asset,” said hospital foundation executive director Roberta Martell. “The increase in the number of rental units will be important for the island and invaluable for the hospital.

Martell said there is a misconception that the temporary accommodation operated from the Seabreeze is closing because the foundation purchases the hostel, when in reality it is closing because it was neither purchased by BC Housing or Salt Spring Community Services for that. use.

Neither organization was available to speak at press time, but BC Housing sent out a statement saying that while the delay offers “some relief,” tenants remain concerned about their housing situation.

He said BC Housing is working to ensure that no one is displaced if the hospital foundation takes over the hostel. “We are currently reviewing a number of options and doing our due diligence to determine the most appropriate and cost effective long-term housing solutions for these tenants and to address the issue of homelessness in the Salt Spring community. . “

Martell said she believed BC Housing’s goal was to fund a bespoke supportive housing facility. “For the sake of so many vulnerable people in Salt Spring, we look forward to seeing the progress of this project as soon as possible,” she said.

The hospital foundation has launched other housing initiatives, including a grant to support the rental of a “landing field” to house newly hired hospital staff, and the creation of a rental database. online at ladymintofoundation.com/hip.

Hospital foundation board chairman Dave Taylor said in a statement the situation highlighted the need for “housing-focused coordination.”

“Now is not the time for conflict, but for collaboration,” he said.

Cherie Geauvreau, president of the Wagon Wheel Housing Society, a grassroots group committed to ending poverty and homelessness, is also working with the foundation to find solutions. “It is only as a community that we can move forward with our housing situation, as this is the only way real solutions can come about,” she said.

[email protected]