British Columbia

Vancouver Island housing proposal envisions low-income seniors and students creating community together

A housing proposal in Saanich, B.C., aims to bring low-income individuals from different generations together, in hopes of creating a community that otherwise would not likely exist. 

Project awaiting final approval from Saanich District Council

An architect's rendering of a proposed building, which would house low-income seniors and students, in Saanich, B.C. (Studio 531 Architects)

A housing proposal on Vancouver Island aims to bring low-income individuals from different generations and backgrounds together, in hopes of creating relationships and a community that otherwise would not likely exist. 

The proposal comes from the Luther Court Society in Saanich, which currently operates a range of services for seniors, including long-term care, affordable housing, assisted living and an adult day centre. 

Luther Court, which works closely with the neighbouring Lutheran Church of the Cross, has been around since 1979. 

The project, if approved, would house 17 low-income students and 78 low-income seniors living together in an intergenerational community.

"We know, from our experience of having a multitude of students on sites doing their practicums, of the rich exchange of ideas and shared experience that occurs when elders and students are given intentional time together to build relationships," Luther Court Society executive director Karen Johnson-Lefsrud told All Points West guest host Rohit Joseph. 

She said the project was created to break down silos that exist within society that prevent young people and seniors from connecting. 

"I think it's just a really wonderful opportunity for students and seniors to live together."

It would also become another affordable housing site in the municipality, something Johnson-Lefsrud said is in high demand. 

"We get phone calls every week and we hear the desperation in people's voices as they are looking for suitable, affordable housing."

"Our wait-list currently for our independent suites is about three to four years."

The Luther Court Society's vision for what its campus would look like with the introduction of a building for seniors and students. (Studio 531 Architects)

The proposal has received unanimous support from council during first and second readings, but the society will have to wait for a final decision from council before it can begin to celebrate. 

Last week, Saanich city council held a public hearing to get feedback from the community. 

"Interacting with others out of our particular demographic is important," one resident of Luther Court said during the public hearing.

"Having connections with others that aren't necessarily being paid to be here is vital."

If approved, it could take several years to construct as the society waits for funding and for actual construction to begin. From there, Johnson-Lefsrud said there will be an application process, likely with interviews, to ensure they choose the right mix of people for the community.

With files from All Points West

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