Residents wary of continuing care centre plans

A big, new continuing care facility in the Whistle Bend subdivision could become an eyesore, a safety hazard and an unwelcoming place for seniors.

A big, new continuing care facility in the Whistle Bend subdivision could become an eyesore, a safety hazard and an unwelcoming place for seniors.

Those are some of the concerns raised by Whitehorse residents at a public hearing on Monday evening for development of the third phase of Whistle Bend.

Although the phase includes the construction of a variety of residential and commercial lots, it was the Yukon government’s continuing care facility that received the most attention and criticism.

In December 2014, the government announced it was building a 300-bed facility in two phases. The total floor area for the multi-storey facility is estimated at 21,900 square metres.

A report prepared by Kobayashi and Zedda Architects in June 2013, which reviewed similar facilities elsewhere in Canada, proposed designing the facility as several two- or three-storey buildings. It would be located next to both the “town square” and Keno Way in the neighbourhood.

That’s a big concern for Whistle Bend resident Tamara Boiteau, who recently purchased a home there.

“I love the neighbourhood and I love my home, I really bought into the city’s initial vision for Whistle Bend,” she said.

“But I’m not sure I would have agreed to it if I knew about the plan to build a continuing care facility right across from my house. I may have chosen to buy property elsewhere.

“I’m concerned it will affect the resale value of my home in the future.”

Spence Hill also spoke to council about her concerns for the facility, saying the public was never consulted about it.

If the government needs so many beds, why doesn’t it build something in the same spirit as Copper Ridge Place, she asked.

“I’d never want to send anyone to a place like that,” she said of the planned facility.

Porter Creek resident Cam Koss suggested that the government may want to look at building a single-storey facility, like similar ones around Canada.

That would eliminate the need for elevators, reduce safety hazards and make it more inviting to seniors, he said.

Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, said the city could consider the scale of development in zoning decisions.

“But the city’s purview is limited to zoning,” he added.

Anthony DeLorenzo, with the Department of Highways and Public Works, explained the facility would be designed in a way that would be inviting to seniors.

He said it would include neighbourhood-type houses that wouldn’t have an institutional feel.

“We’re really addressing a need for continuing care beds in the city,” he said.

“Macaulay Lodge is nearing the end of its life.”

Having one big facility, instead of a few scattered around Whitehorse, would keep overhead costs low and make staffing more efficient, he added.

Department of Health and Social Services spokesperson Pat Living confirmed there is no design for the facility yet.

The city has already passed first reading of a zoning bylaw to reflect the updated design for the third phase of Whistle Bend.

In May 2011, Golder and Morrison Hershfield were hired by the city to complete the planning and engineering for phases three to seven of the subdivision. Once that work was completed in May 2013, the city hired Inukshuk Planning and Development to complete the detailed engineering phase.

That’s when several infrastructure changes were made, such as the location of phase three, re-design of Casca Boulevard, and replacing numerous single family and townhouse lots with multiple family lots.

City council is currently reviewing the changes, with second and third reading of the bylaw scheduled for March 23.

Coun. Mike Gladish pointed out it was the second time the government was imposing infrastructure on the city in the neighbourhood, the other being the outdoor sports complex.

And Coun. Betty Irwin asked DeLorenzo how the government would be affected if the city didn’t pass the bylaw.

“We’d take it in stride and try to work with the city from there,” he said, adding the government would also need the city’s permission to obtain a building permit in the future.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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