Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) today confirmed that discussions are underway between the shíshálh Nation and Trellis Seniors Services for a location to build a new residential care facility on Sechelt lands.
The exact location cannot be confirmed at this time due to the status of negotiations but, if successful, construction of the 125-bed care home will commence in time for completion in late-2019. When opened, the new home will bring 20 additional beds to the Sunshine Coast, providing more care for seniors in their own community.
“We’re pleased to be able to help identify a possible site for this much-needed long term care centre,” said shíshálh Nation Chief Warren Paull. “We’re excited about potentially being a part of this project as the construction phase and operations of the facility itself offer many job opportunities for people who live on the Sunshine Coast.”
Trellis entered into an agreement with VCH in June 2016 to build a care home as a replacement for the aging Totem Lodge and Shorncliffe. Concerns about longer-than-anticipated development processes resulted in Trellis considering other locations outside the Sechelt area.
Sharing community concerns about the beds potentially moving away from Sechelt, the shíshálh Nation looked at ways it could assist and approached Trellis to explore options.
“We know that there has been concern in the community about the many aspects of this project and how previous decisions were made and the shíshálh Nation coming forward demonstrates Sechelt’s commitment to improving residential care in the community,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “I am also very pleased that the concerns of employees have been heard with Trellis committing that current staff will be brought on at the new facility. I have also made it clear to Vancouver Coastal Health that it is my expectation that this happens with the same wages and benefits that are provided to those staff now.”
For Trellis, the option presented by the shíshálh Nation provides another opportunity to move the development forward in a timely manner. The proposed site is in a residential area, accessible by existing transit and with amenities nearby.
“Our focus is to provide residential care beds on the Sunshine Coast,” said Trellis President Mary McDougall. “When unexpected delays surfaced for our original site, we proposed other options and were interested when this opportunity came forward from the shíshálh Nation.”
Vancouver Coastal Health is pleased that a potential option has emerged and will work with Trellis to ensure it meets the interests of VCH and the community. At the same time, the health authority is working through an established labour process to ensure that VCH staff who transition to Trellis retain their union status and benefits.
“This new site option is a positive step toward providing the residential care beds on the Sunshine Coast we so desperately need to support seniors and reduce the pressure on our acute care system,” said VCH Coastal Chief Operating Officer Karin Olson. “We are also moving forward to address the concerns about wages and jobs. Our staff, unions, and the community have made it clear this is crucial and we are committed to addressing those concerns.”
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.3 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola. Submitted