Historical Casa Mia property approved for new care home

This week an important decision came before Vancouver city council on whether to rezone the property at 1920 Marine Drive, also known as Casa Mia. The decision was doubly important due to the fact that Casa Mia would receive a heritage designation as well. The change of use for this historically significant home built by George C. Reifel would bring over 90 long term care and dementia care beds, through a combination of publicly subsidized beds through Vancouver Coastal Health as well as through private pay. The new development will be managed by BCCPA member The Care Group.

BC Care Providers Association took an active interest in the proposal, attending a public open house over the summer in Vancouver’s southwest side, an area lacking in seniors care infrastructure.

CEO Daniel Fontaine commented on the controversy surrounding the re-development to CKNW’s Janet Brown — story here. He later appeared on Steele and Drex for a longer interview and to explain why we need more care on Vancouver’s west side.

On Tuesday evening BCCPA VP, Communications and Stakeholder Relations Mike Klassen addressed council and was one of several who expressed support for the rezoning. His remarks to mayor and council are below.

We are extremely pleased that city council voted unanimously in support of the new care home at Casa Mia, and we are grateful to city staff and the mayor and council for approving a unique and important project for the city. It may serve as an important model on how to integrate care and amenities for our elderly citizens in an urban setting.

To learn more about Casa Mia and the significance of this site, see stories here and here.

In Support of the Casa Mia Rezoning

Good evening, mayor and council.

BC Care Providers Association is our province’s leading voice for the continuing care sector, representing the majority of non-government providers of long term care, assisted living, home care and home support. Our members provide care and comfort for tens of thousands of B.C.’s seniors every day.

Our organization would like to express our support for this imaginative and innovative use of the property at Casa Mia on SW Marine Drive, proposed by our member The Care Group.

Vancouverites who’ve traveled along Marine Drive will know the iconic and historically significant former home of George C. Reifel, the local business person who also built the landmark Vogue Theatre and Commodore Ballroom, and whose family donated land for the famous bird sanctuary in Delta.

Now, the legacy of George Reifel and the Reifel family stands to benefit our city once again, by converting this property into a new use, that includes retaining the beautiful heritage building where the family once resided.

The Care Group in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health proposes to reimagine this property in order to provide a variety of publicly-subsidized elder care, including around the clock long term care, and housing assigned for a memory care wing for those with cognitive impairment.

The majority of you sat on this council in the summer of 2013 to receive the Age-friendly Action Plan from city staff. It aimed to make Vancouver more accommodating for seniors by providing more amenities, to better assist residents with dementia, and to promote aging in place.

The city is also taking action by proposing new affordable housing oriented to seniors in the Fraser Street neighbourhood. It is a recognition that to accomplish aging in place we need more housing choices.

Given that our population is rapidly aging, and the seniors population is projected to double to over 20 percent by 2036, it places even more emphasis on making new housing available that supports our seniors.

As our city struggles with the rising cost of housing, have we considered what it means to have so many of our seniors remaining in their single-family homes into their late 80s and 90s? The Age-friendly plan says 29 percent – nearly one third – of Vancouver’s seniors are living alone. Many are struggling with the health impacts of social isolation.

With this creative proposal to build new homes for seniors — with a mixture of private pay and publicly subsidized beds — the city is not only filling a critical need for Vancouver’s seniors and the family members that support them, it is making care available where it is desperately needed on Vancouver’s west side.

Earlier this year, many of us were shocked by statistics showing that unlike the rest of the city, the population is declining in Kerrisdale, Marpole and in Southlands. The 2011 Census shows those neighbourhoods having some of the highest concentrations of seniors in the city.

Supporting the Casa Mia rezoning, and bringing new long term care and dementia care homes into this community can therefore address some of council’s strategic objectives, including:

  • Providing dozens of new affordable housing units thanks to the involvement of Vancouver Coastal Health and the B.C. government;
  • Supporting aging in place for our citizens;
  • Creating housing alternatives for seniors who are seeking to keep roots in their community;
  • Bringing relief to families who might otherwise have to travel in and out of the city to remain connected to their frail and elderly parents;
  • And, finally, retaining a heritage property for others to inhabit and enjoy for decades to come

BC Care Providers thanks the mayor and council for their consideration of this development proposal, and for your ongoing efforts to create a city that is friendly for our seniors.