A senior-friendly Cobble Hill takes root

The trees planted at the Cobble Hill Commons in the spring may be a precursor for a seniors home in the same location sometime in the future. - Krista Siefken/file
The trees planted at the Cobble Hill Commons in the spring may be a precursor for a seniors home in the same location sometime in the future.
— image credit: Krista Siefken/file

Today, if you who have lived for years in south Cowichan and are ready to retire, you have to go to Victoria or Duncan to find seniors housing.

That may be changing.

Soon, there may be an affordable seniors’ housing option in the heart of Cobble Hill village.

In 2010 the CVRD acquired from the province for $300 a 1.6-acre property in Cobble Hill village dubbed the Cobble Hill Commons. Since that time, the CVRD has worked with the public to develop a concept of how best to use the space.

The CVRD hired Bev Suderman, a land-use consultant with Island Planning Services, and Jessica Gemella of Gemella Design to gather feedback and prepare a list of recommendations to the CVRD on how to proceed with the land.

In November, Suderman, Gemella and Cobble Hill Director Gerry Giles led an open house for the public to comment on their  findings and review designs depicting how the development might look.

“It was a positive meeting and I think good results came out of it,” Giles said. “Now people are more aware of what can transpire on that property and we’re looking forward to the next phases of this study.”

The greatest concern from the public related to transportation, and takes up the majority of the report. Suderman said she was initially not sure the site was suitable for seniors housing because of transportation and accessibility to services. Having studied the area more closely, she now thinks differently.

“I wasn’t at all convinced Cobble Hill was right for seniors housing. Why put it there when there is little by way of community services? As we review more, if there was an upgrade in the bus service, they can go to Valleyview mall. There is a post office, coffee shop, a market which could upgrade their offerings. We could offer professional office space in the housing development to health care professionals. With minor tweaking of services, it’s doable.”

The next step for Suderman is to present the report to the CVRD board for adoption.

Giles is hopeful the plan for seniors housing and a community park will proceed.

“It’s one way to re-establish the old community of Cobble Hill, which was the hub of activity. It’s so important to know who you live around and how they are doing. When we experienced the big snow a few years ago, it didn’t take much to walk to the top of your driveway to see who had smoke coming out of their chimney.”

Suderman said the involvement from the community was personal.

“One of the things that really struck me about this study compared to others is the level of personal involvement of all the people who came. People were speaking from the heart. I appreciated throughout how much thought people have given to this whole challenge.”

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