Our Project is to build (and operate) a residence for seniors in the Bowser area.
The primary purposes of the Bowser Seniors Housing Society are:
To provide and operate non-profit housing exclusively for seniors;
To conduct feasibility, ecological and engineering studies necessary to establish a seniors housing facility;
To construct, hold, manage and retain housing projects.
A full description of our purposes can be found in our Constitution and Bylaws, revised April 29, 2014
We have been working to get our construction project built since the society was incorporated in 2005. The first step was to find suitable land or alternatively to identify a suitable building to renovate or convert. Fortunately we identified land that is owned by the Province of BC and in February 2012 they offered a lease to the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), who can then lease a portion of it to the society. We worked closely with the RDN to obtain this land because it is within the boundaries of the Bowser Village Centre and is a perfect location for a community-focused seniors residence. The Province’s lease to the RDN can be converted into a Sponsored Crown Grant at a later date, once we have the necessary financing and a final approved development plan in place.
In parallel to the search for land, the society has been quietly maintaining its status as a registered charity, and a registered society in British Columbia. We are increasing our membership numbers each year.
We have also worked with representatives of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to access grants and loans offered to projects such as ours. We are a member of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, which is a great source of information and advice.
We have increased the knowledge-base of our directors by attending relevant seminars (mostly on-line) and by visiting other seniors housing facilities from Nanaimo to Courtenay and Port Alberni.
In 2011, we hired an architect to create conceptual drawings for us, based on our description of what we think is needed. This concept is open to modification, and will likely change once we have more information about the land, from a physical perspective.
When the land was secured in 2012, we had discussions with the Ministry of Highways and the neighbouring land owners about potential access routes to the site. These are still ongoing.
We hired CitySpaces Consulting to assist with our ‘Community Survey on Seniors Housing’ mail out, review the responses, and update our Needs Assessment (originally completed in 2007), as well as our current Business Plan. These last two documents are essential items when presenting to potential partners and cultivating funders. A Public Meeting was held November 2012 to review the outcomes and a design/planning session was held in December 2012 to discuss unit size and building design.
In 2013, the decision was made to hire an architect for the project. Over the next six months this process unfolded with Expressions of Interest sent and received; the Scope of Work prepared and reviewed; Request for Proposals sent and received; interviews with the short-listed firms; and the final selection of Checkwitch Poiron Architects Inc. of Nanaimo.
With our architect in place, and after consultation with the appropriate authorities, we began our site preparation work. In the spring and summer of 2013, we completed volunteer brushing-out sessions to prepare for the topographical survey that was required.
In tandem with the site work, we launched our inaugural fund raising campaign to enable us to have financial support to continue our progress. We have a loan agreement in place with Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) for $10,000, but the work has to be invoiced and paid for before a claim could be submitted against it. So our resources were focused on raising funds for the remainder of the summer to pay for the work being done.
In the fall of 2013, the topographic survey was completed by Peter Mason Geomatics. We could then move on to the geotechnical survey. Excavation of the test holes was done by Bill Burnett and the survey itself was conducted by Lewkowich Engineering Associates. All of these results were sent to our architect, who also recommended that a tree inventory be done on the site. Volunteer time was spent doing this and consultants from MacDonald Gray, our landscape consultants, came to review the site and provided suggestions for future site development.
Our architect is now armed with enough site information to begin the schematic designs. These documents will be the focus of our efforts over the next six months in discussions, reviews, and revisions, to solidify our project’s purpose and design before proceeding with construction. While this is happening, fundraising will continue to enable the construction phase to begin as soon as possible.