Project Overview

Bowser Seniors Housing Society is currently in the development process to build Lighthouse Villa, an affordable independent living facility for seniors.

Lighthouse Villa will contain 22 private units furnished with the seniors’ own possessions. Residents will live independently. Privacy and independence are preserved in a welcoming atmosphere providing companionship and social activities in the common areas. The residents are responsible for their own meals, housekeeping, personal laundry and utilities (hydro, cable, phone).

The 22 adaptable (three fully accessible) rental apartments consist of 20 one bedroom and 2 two bedrooms, all of differing sizes. The facility will be one storey in height and include surface parking stalls for residents. Each residential unit will be fully self-sufficient with bathroom, kitchen, bedroom(s), living area, and limited storage. Amenity spaces for gatherings, crafts, games, and a coin-operated laundry for residents are included in the building plan. Lighthouse Villa will be located in the Bowser Village, behind Magnolia Court and close to shops, cafe, library, bank, trails and transportation.

We have partnered with BC Housing on this subsidized affordable housing project, where resident eligibility is determined through income level and assets held. Our 22 rental units will be comprised of 4 units at shelter rate, 11 at rent-geared-to-income, and 7 at a federally determined market rate. The Villa will be offering spaces to eligible seniors through the BC Housing Registry and our own waiting list.

To ensure that you qualify, please log into the BC Housing Registry website at: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-housing/subsidized-housing

Please note that the Villa will not appear in the housing listings until our project receives final approval.

Here is our history and status as of May 2024:

Funding –
• As a result of a Request for Proposal that we submitted Sep 2018, BC Housing announced in Nov 2018 that we had been “approved to proceed” with our project
• We continue to work with BC Housing and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for additional funding and our search for other fund sources is ongoing; interest rates have increased and will determine where best to secure our financing amongst the lenders available at the time
• Our local fundraising campaign has raised just over $400,000 to date, which supports our equity position

Crown Land Lease –
• Our Nominal Rent Tenure application was submitted to the Ministry of Forests (FLNRORD) May 2017 (our original 2012 Crown Land application had to be revised to accommodate BC Housing requirements)
• In Aug 2020, we signed a 30 year lease that was offered, but it wasn’t the 60 year term that we required
• We completed the conditions of the tenure offer (our subdivision application) Jun 2021
• In Aug 2021, we were told that it would take 6 – 18 months to have the land transferred from FLNRORD to the Ministry of Housing to achieve the 60 year lease term needed for BC Housing financing
• As part of the transfer, BC Housing submitted their own Sponsored Crown Grant application to their Board for approval in May/Jun 2022, which was received and the file moved back to FLNRORD
• In Oct 2022, the file was submitted by FLNRORD to their Assistant Deputy Minister for approval which was received Mar 2023; we still wait for the BC Housing administrative process to be completed

Project Team –
• We signed a fixed contract with Checkwitch Poiron Architect in Dec 2017 and have completed up to the Construction Documentation and Procurement phases of the project; this contract will be updated for the final Construction Administration phase due to the original quote being over 6 years old
• Construction Management services were pursued in Jan 2018 and a contract was awarded to Saywell Contracting Ltd. in Mar 2018; this contract will also have to be updated due to the time lapsed
• Development Consultant services, as required since May 2016, were confirmed with a formal contract Jul 2018 with Walter Hoogland of Constructive Management; Walter has been working pro bono since Jul 2021

Site Development –
• All required site evaluations had been completed between 2018-2020 for environmental impact, geotechnical and seismic concerns
• A Hydrology Study for a stormwater management plan was completed by the Development Group for the Bowser Village (of which we were a participant) in 2018
• In Jun 2021, FLNRORD pronounced a downstream development to have a Stream Protection Enhancement Area (SPEA), which invalidated our recently filed Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP); additional civil, environmental and specialized arborist work was required to bring our site into compliance; we submitted our Riparian Areas Assessment Report in Mar 2022 for provincial approval and received it Jul 2022
• Our Stormwater Management Plan had been submitted and approved by both the RDN and MOTI in May 2021 and was reapproved when the new Development Permit was reviewed Dec 2022
• We received our initial Property Tax Assessment for 2022, triggered by our new FLNRORD lease, for $689,000 in land value; we appealed the high value and were successful in reducing it to $609,000
Municipal and other Government Approvals –
• Waste treatment system – the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Board approved the Bowser Village Sewer Project in Dec 2017 and cancelled the project Mar 2019. With that news, we had to start again and design a septic system for our project. This has a much larger impact on our site in terms of space required, and both our zoning bylaw and our lease documents had to be amended.
• Rezoning – the RDN Board approved our original zoning bylaw Dec 2018 and our amendment to the bylaw Apr 2019
• Development Permit – was submitted early Nov 2019 and was approved by the RDN Mar 2020
• Land clearing – we submitted our Occupational Licence to Cut with FLNRORD in Jan 2018 for our building site; permission was issued with our new lease in Dec 2021 with a 5 year term. This will become redundant when land is transferred to BC Housing and considered ‘private land’
• Land clearing – we received permission from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to clear and construct Pitt Road as part of our subdivision application, but this will expire May 2024 and will have to be requested again when we’re ready to clear
• Subdivision – this became a condition of the Aug 2020 FLNRORD lease with us and, working with MOTI and the RDN, was completed with registration of the new lot at the Land Titles Office in Jun 2021

Building Permit –

In Mar 2021, the RDN agreed to let us apply early for our Building Permit, so that the review of our Construction Drawings could begin. We have made progress, but the following items still need to be approved prior to issuance:
1. Housing Agreement (between the RDN and BC Housing), as well as additional covenants for firefighting and future sewer, have been through the RDN review process and sit with BC Housing to be approved and registered against the property to ensure that the land is only used for seniors housing
2. New Development Permit application including the SPEA changes was submitted to the RDN for approval Sep 2022 and was reviewed, but is being held for the Housing Agreement requirement
3. Homeowner Protection Office rental exemption is required and will be obtained after the land transfer is completed

Next steps in 2024 will be –
• Hearing that the Crown Land transfer has fully competed – finally securing our land!
• Completing the items listed above for the issuance of our Building Permit
• Sending our Construction Drawings out for Tender again
• Working with BC Housing on their funding requirements and achieving their Final Project Approval
• Pursuing CMHC and other funding avenues for the balance required

All of our efforts are focused on making Lighthouse Villa a reality in the near future.

posted May 2024

The architect, landscape design and engineers touring the Lighthouse Villa site