Interior Health announced Friday it has awarded the contract to develop 70 residential care beds in Williams Lake to inSite Housing, Hospitality Health Services Inc.
The new facility will be built at the former Cariboo Lodge site in the 200 block of Fourth Avenue North, a location Mayor Walt Cobb described as ideal.
“I know we couldn’t pick and choose who got the contract, but I am very happy the Cariboo Lodge site is going to be used for what it was intended to be from the very beginning,” Cobb said. “It is close to the Seniors Activity Centre, the park, the hospital and everything.”
The company hopes to break ground in July or August of this year and be open in the summer of 2018, said inSite president Johann Burger.
“We have been preparing for a long time to put up a brand new building at that location,” Burger told the Tribune Monday.
He confirmed the whole building will be demolished, including the portion occupied by Canadian Mental Health Association’s Jubilee House, an eight-bed facility for people with severe and persistent mental illness.
CMHA executive director Ian McLaughlin said he has been working with Burger to find a new location for Jubilee House, preferably at another downtown location.
“We are also talking with Interior Health and B.C. Housing so between all of us we are certainly hopeful we find a place,” McLaughlin said. “The hope is to have it within the downtown area. The people who live there don’t drive.”
Originally inSite expressed interest in possibly purchasing the lot next to Cariboo Lodge where the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is located.
“The thinking behind it was that we could use that for future expansion as and when the need arises,” Burger said. “Potentially some independent living or assisted living could go there so that it would almost become a campus of care whereby healthier seniors could move in and then as they age they can stay in the same place.”
While the idea of purchasing the museum property is now on the back burner, Burger said it is still a possibility they haven’t ruled out.
Meanwhile, Cobb said the city is in the process of moving forward with an option for the museum and the historic 153 Mile Store, regardless of whether or not inSite wants the museum property.
“At the end of the day, if we build a new museum, we will just put that property up for sale,” Cobb said.
Burger said the next step will be to finalize the design drawings and apply for permits and building applications.
“We hope to break ground in July or August of this year,” he said, noting the new facility will provide more than 80 regular and casual positions for care and hospitality staff.
Presently inSite operates facilities in Quesnel, Salmon Arm and Kelowna.
In addition to the 70 publicly-funded beds, the new care home will include two private-pay beds.
Interior Health Board Chair John O’Fee said the addition of 243 beds across Interior Health will benefit seniors and others who need around-the-clock care.
“Our population is aging and becoming more medically complex,” O’Fee said. “Conditions such as dementia are on the rise.”