VICTORIA -- The Capital Regional Hospital District board (CHRD) is looking for the public’s input to help decide the future of Oak Bay Lodge, a former long-term care home.

The future use of the four-acre site will be discussed during a pair of virtual open houses planned for Jan. 21 and 26.

On Jan. 6, the CHRD launched an information page on the Capital Regional District’s website to provide information on the redevelopment of the former Oak Bay care home.

“We’re asking people in the region to tell us what they see for that property for health-care, because it's a health-care facility,” said Capital Regional Hospital District board chair Denise Blackwell. “For example, we could do multi-use on the main floor and we could have some kind of health-care use – like an urgent primary care centre like the one we have in Langford.”

Blackwell says the board is also considering mixed-use commercial space on the main floor with the possibility of care beds on the upper floors of the new facility.

“It is a health-care facility and it will remain a health-care facility,” said Blackwell.

The first round of public consultation will focus on defining the redevelopment of the Oak Bay Lodge site, while seeking input on potential use of the property. The virtual open houses will offer a presentation on the redevelopment project. There will also be an opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide comment.

Blackwell says the redevelopment of the property is an important opportunity to meet the growing health-care needs of the region.

“We want as much public consultation from all corners of the region as we can possibly get, but we are looking for the highest and best use of the site for health-care purposes,” said Blackwell. “Health-care facilities are important for the health of the community, but it also creates good, well-paying jobs, and so that’s what we need to see.”

The former senior’s care facility has been closed since the summer of 2020 when its residents were moved to The Summit, a new care facility located on Hillside Avenue. In a September 2020 report submitted to the CHRD, it was determined it would cost as much to upgrade Oak Bay Lodge as it would to replace it.

“The process to get a demolition permit has begun because the longer it sits there with nobody in it, the more it costs us for security and insurance,” said Blackwell. “We want to get (the site) prepared and get it ready to build something.”

In December 2020, the CRHD put out a request for proposals for a construction manager. The successful candidate would be awarded contracts for the removal of hazardous materials from the former senior's care facility and its deconstruction.

The demolition of the former senior’s care home is expected to begin in the coming months and take nine months to complete at a cost of $10 million. An estimated $1.4 million of the demolition budget has been earmarked for the removal of hazardous materials from the 50-year-old facility.

This first round of public consultation will conclude on Feb. 4, with a second round scheduled to begin in the spring of 2021. Blackwell says the board hopes to make a final decision on the redevelopment of the Oak Bay Lodge site by the fall of 2021.

“We will get in the two rounds of consultation and the demolition done by then,” said Blackwell. “Then we go before Oak Bay council to get their permission if we need to re-zone it.”

For further information or to provide input on the project visit the CRD website.