Providence, Golden Life get new Comox Valley long-term beds

Providence, Golden Life get new Comox Valley long-term beds

Golden Life’s Garden View Village in Kimberley  / Photo by the Kimberley Bulletin

By George Le Masurier

This article will be updated with additional location reactions to the news as it comes in

Golden Life Management Corporation and Providence Residential Care Community society will share the Comox Valley’s 151 long-awaited additional residential care beds.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix made the announcement at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay this morning. Local MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard also attended.

Golden Life, a Cranbrook-based company, will build 120 residential care beds and six hospice beds on property in Courtenay. The hospice beds include two new beds and the four existing beds that will move from The Views at St. Joseph.

Golden Life currently operates 13 seniors facilities; 10 in the British Columbia Kootenay region and three in Alberta. A fourth Alberta location will open soon.

Construction of the new Comox Valley facility will begin this summer and is expected to complete before the end of 2020.

The newly-created Providence Residential Care Community Society, which assumes ownership April 1 of The Views and the 17-acre St. Joseph’s property at the top of Comox Hill, will receive 31 beds, plus four respite beds.

They consist of the 21 temporary beds that Island Health opened at the former acute care hospital, which now become permanent, and an additional 10 new beds. The Views will convert the existing four hospice beds to respite beds.

“In addition to the RFP process, Providence Residential and Community Care Society … has an agreement to work with Island Health on a potential campus of care redevelopment plan,” according a Ministry of Health news release this morning.

The Views currently operates 116 residential care beds, which will be redeveloped to current standards as part of the agreement.

PRCC Vice-Chair Chris Kelsey, of Comox, could not say when redevelopment of the St. Joe’s property will begin.

Celeste Mullin, vice-president, Golden Life Management Corp. said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Minister of Health, Island Health and Comox Valley Hospice Society to bring exemplary housing, care and services to the Comox Valley. Our villages are more than bricks and mortar. They are vibrant and dynamic communities that support each person’s unique beliefs, values and wishes affording them the opportunity to direct and live their best quality of life.”

Chris Kelsey, chair of the St. Joseph’s board of directors, gave this statement to Decafnation.

“This announcement is a watershed moment for St. Joseph’s and our community. Over the past five or more years, we have been working hard planning a future role for the St. Joseph’s site that best serves the needs of our community. Our Board, management team, and staff are extremely grateful for this opportunity. This announcement allows PRCC and us, in partnership with Island Health, to take very concrete steps to implement our ambitious plans and to revolutionize the care that we provide to our most vulnerable citizens. We have always considered it to be an amazing privilege to serve our community, and we look forward to the hard work ahead and to the continuation of our mission.”


Who is Golden Life?

Golden Life’s founding history makes it an interesting choice to build the Comox Valley much-needed and twice-delayed long-term care beds.

In the 1990s, Cranbrook construction company owner, Endre Lillejord, tried to find housing for his mother that “supported independence and dignity,” but such facilities were not common then.

So Lillejord directed his Golden Life Construction company to build the facility he envisioned for his mother. He called it Joseph Creek Village, and his mother moved in with the first wave of residents in 1998.

The Comox Valley announcement is part of the Health Ministry’s $240 million three-year plan “to increase the direct care seniors receive in residential care homes in communities and across the province.”

Dix has set a target of 3.36 care hours per-resident-day, on average across health authorities, by 2021.


Good news for caregivers, nurses

Today’s announcement brings some good news for Comox Valley Hospital workers.

Island Health opened the temporary beds at St. Joe’s, called Mountain View, to ease serious overcapacity issues at the Comox Valley Hospital. Recently, there were more than 200 admitted patients in the hospital, which was designed for a maximum of 153 patients. That has stressed hospital staff.

Most of the extra patients no longer need acute care, but due to the current shortage of long-term care beds, they have nowhere to go.

The announcement is also good news for some family caregivers.

The shortage of long-term care and respite beds has caused problems for at-home caregivers, many of whom are exhausted and in crisis. The lack of available, publicly-funded beds has forced many family members to care for their loved ones beyond their capacity to do so.

Island Health issued a Request for Proposal for 70 new long-term care beds three years ago, but cancelled it a year later, and issued a new RFP last year.


Not everyone pleased

Today’s announcement hasn’t quelled the concerns of several caregiver groups in the Comox Valley, who fear the new beds won’t be enough.

“Very pleased to see the government finally take action on the crying need of two years ago,” caregiver Delores Broten told Decafnation.”But the need continues to grow and by the time these beds are ready, we will ned as many again.

Caregivers also fear a private operator will run a low-budget operation and eventually sell to an even larger private corporation with negative consequences for patients and their families.

They point to Retirement Concepts, a Canadian-owned company purchased by the Chinese insurance company Anbang in 2017, and later seized by the Chinese government over allegations of fraud.

Retirement Concepts ran 21 facilities from Quebec to BC, including the Comox Valley Seniors Village and Casa Loma, an independent living facility, where workers have been on strike.

Another source told Decafnation this morning that Comox Valley Seniors Village has been running without a Director of Care or a General Manager since September, and that there have been at least five complaints to the provincial licensing officer about the lack of supervision.

The source also said Seniors Village is literally rationing the jam for residents.

Golden Life employees gave the company mixed reviews on the Indeed Canada website. Most unfavorable reviews mentioned understaffing and wage issues. But the company got better reviews from five people who commented on another employee-review site called





— Residential care homes offer seniors 24-hour professional supervision and care in a safe and secure environment.
— Through the $240-million investment over three years, the average direct care hours in
Contact:B.C. will increase from 3.11 per-resident day in 2016, to 3.24 by 2019, reaching 3.36 by
— Progress has been made with almost 270,000 more care hours being provided throughout the province by converting part-time and casual staff to full time.
— New funding of $48.4 million in 2018 will add more than one million hours of direct care.

For more information on increasing staffing in residential care homes, visit here




Castle Wood Village
Castlegar, BC

Columbia Garden Village
Invermere, BC

Crest View Village
Creston, BC

Garden View Village
Kimberley, BC

Joseph Creek Village
Cranbrook, BC

Lake View Village
Nelson, BC

Mountain Side Village
Fruitvale, BC

Rocky Mountain Village
Fernie, BC

Rose Wood Village
Trail, BC

Whispering Winds Village
Pincher Creek, AB

Silver Kettle Village
Grand Forks, BC

Evanston Grand Village
Calgary, AB

Grande Avenue Village
Cochrane, AB

Coming Soon
Seton, AB


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Directors challenge legitimacy of advanced recycling technologies

Entrance to the Comox Valley landfill, where tipping fees are calculated  / George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

New directors of the Comox-Strathcona Solid Waste Management Board have called into question the legitimacy of a special committee exploring new waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies.

And new Area B Director Arzeena Hamir has suggested some at least one of the WTE committee members met privately and inappropriately with one of the technology proponents.

Director Hamir

The committee, which originally named itself the WTE select committee but later changed its name to the Solid Waste Advanced Technologies (SWAT) committee, had explored methods of extending the life of north Island landfills at the Pigeon Lake dump.

Landfills are expensive to construct, and just as expensive to close when they are full.

The provincial Ministry of the Environment has ordered the closure of all existing landfills on the north Island at an estimated cost to taxpayers of just over $38 million. This includes landfills in Campbell River, Gold River, Tahsis and Zeballos.

All residential and commercial garbage that cannot be recycled or reused will be dumped into new high-tech landfills, also at Pigeon Lake, that minimize methane gas emissions and the leaking of toxic liquids into the ground. But each of these new landfills cost $10 million to construct and almost as much to close.

So new technologies that claim to reduce the amount of garbage dumped into landfills by 90 percent was obvious. Landfills would last longer, and the expense to taxpayers would decline.

But nothing is ever that simple.

The former SWAT committee members had leaned toward Sustane Technologies, a company that says it can recycle all forms of plastic and transform it into biodiesel pellets. They sell these pellets to other companies who burn it for energy.

Sustane does not yet have any functioning facilities using their technology, although Nova Scotia will pilot a project.

But Hamir and new Comox Director Alex Bissinger question whether that process — proven or not — constitutes any environmental benefit.

“What is the carbon footprint of these new technologies,” she said at the most recent solid waste management board meeting. “And shouldn’t we incorporate this (the net carbon footprint) into our analysis of them.”

Hamir wants the technologies re-evaluated to include climate change, carbon footprints and any impact on the entire solid waste management system, which includes recycling and a new organics composting facility.

Area A director Daniel Arbour said he supported a staff recommendation that ultimately passed to update the SWAT committee’s terms of reference to include emissions from burning the end product of the new technologies.

“If it really reduces the carbon footprint, then it should help reduce costs and increase diversion,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect the committee to recommend anything counter to the board’s mission.”

Hamir said the committee’s name change hides the fact that burning the product of any technology “is still waste-to-energy.”

Bissinger agreed and wanted clarification of whether such a technology actually achieved diversion under the Ministry of Environment’s definition and regulations.

Ministry officials told the solid waste management board in October that it must divert a minimum of 350 kg per capita of solid waste before the province would approve the use of any new technologies. And further, that the use of new technologies would require an amendment to the CSWM Solid Waste Management Plan. And that could trigger expensive studies and new regulations before implementation.

The previous SWAT committee, chaired by former Area B Director Rod Nichol, had operated on the assumption that the ministry’s diversion requirement was just a guideline, not a rigid number. But the October presentation and follow-up letter made it clear that was not the case.

Hamir also suggested that at least one member of the SWAT had met privately with Sustane Technologies, and did not declare the meeting or the substance of the meeting to the whole committee. She did not name the director.

Also, a budget issue

Area C Director Edwin Grieve supported the recommendation to update the SWAT committee’s terms of reference, and added a concern that Comox Valley taxpayers will pay an unfair share of the $38 million to close historic north Island landfills.
He raised the issue because some north Island directors oppose the use of a tax requisition to pay for the closure of historic landfills. They propose paying for the closures solely out of tipping fees (the charge individuals and commercial enterprises pay to dump garbage at the landfill).

The cost will be spread evenly among the 66,537 Comox Valley taxpayers and 43,000 north Island taxpayers. But the cost to close historic Comox Valley landfills totals just shy of $15 million, while north Island lands will cost more than $23 million to close.

“In terms of fairness, it appears that residents of the Comox Valley are paying the majority of the closure costs with the majority of the benefits going north of the Oyster river,” Grieve said in a personal letter to the CSWM board.

Grieve favors a tax requisition to pay for the closure of the historic landfills.

“The big cost facing us is the closure of the landfills and for that we must use taxation,” he said.


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Bishop gifts St. Joe’s Comox site to Providence Health Care

Bishop gifts St. Joe’s Comox site to Providence Health Care

George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

The Views at St. Joe’s has been gifted to a new entity called the Providence Residential & Community Care Services Society (PRCC).

Chair of the St. Joe’s Board of Trustees Chris Kelsey told Decafnation last night the Bishop of Victoria has given St. Joe’s, including its 17 acres of property at the top of Comox Hill to the nonprofit company.

Providence Health Care is a British Columbia Catholic health care organization that operates St. Paul’s Hospital and seven community care facilities in the Lower Mainland. The Bishop of Victoria sits on the board of a society that owns Providence.

The Views at St. Joe’s is Providence’s first acquisition outside the Lower Mainland and is, at the moment, the sole operating facility of the newly-formed PRCC. It’s expected that Providence’s other community care facilities will eventually be moved in the new company.

The acquisition means that, at the closing date of April 1, the current St. Joe’s board will be dissolved. But Kelsey has been appointed Vice Chair of PRCC, and he said there will always be representation on its board.

“What this means is, we’re not going anywhere,” Kelsey said.

Kelsey said the St. Joe’s board starting working on its future role four years ago, when it became clear that Island Health was closing down its acute care hospital. And, he said, Providence shares their vision of a campus of care dedicated for seniors.

“With Providence, we’re building an organization focused solely on seniors care,” he said. “A dementia village concept is part of that plan.”

Running an acute care hospital requires “90 percent of your attention and your budget,” leaving less flexibility to make seniors care better.

“Now we can focus just on that,” he said.

The Views staff will become PRCC employees and medical staff will receive their privileges through the new company.

FURTHER READING: Providence Residential & Community Care

To get out from under the financial restrictions of the Hospital Act, it’s the intent to eventually make PRCC an independent entity, and distance itself from Providence hospitals. That would allow PRCC to borrow funds for capital project, which it cannot do under the Hospital Act.

That’s important for The Views, which needs to be modernized, as do several of Providence’s existing and aging seniors facilities the Lower Mainland.

Providence assisted St. Joe’s in preparing its proposal for the new Comox Valley long-term care beds.

But Kelsey said he does not believe St. Joe’s is the leading proponent for the news beds.

“If that were the case, we would be talking by now. And we’re not,” he said.

But that won’t delay PRCC from moving ahead with a new vision for the St. Joe’s site.

“Whether or not we receive any of the new long-term care beds from Island Health, we will move ahead with a redevelopment of The Views,” Kelsey said. “Either through a competitive process or direct negotiation.”

Kelsey said St. Joe’s and Providence have been working with Island Health and the Ministry of Health through the transfer of ownership process, and both have supported the change.

The Views Administrative Officer Michael Aikins said the change in ownership actually accelerates the redevelopment plans.

“With PPRC as owner, we’re going to build a community with various levels of housing and care options that support seniors, and their spouses and partners, to age in place on a single campus — ranging from independent living, long-term care and specialized dementia care and neighbourhoods,” he said in a news release.





Compassionate care for over a century
Providence Health Care’s commitment to serving those most in need began more than 120 years ago when the Sisters of Providence
came to Vancouver and opened St. Paul’s Hospital, a 25-bed “cottage” on the path to English Bay. Now operating 17 sites, Providence
Health Care is a health and wellness resource for families, patients and residents from all parts of British Columbia.

Providence Health Care was formed in 2000 through the consolidation of CHARA Health Care Society, Holy Family Hospital and St.
Paul’s Hospital, and is now one of the largest Catholic health care organizations in Canada. Providence sites include two acute care
hospitals, five residential care homes, an assisted living residence, a rehabilitation centre, seven community dialysis units, a hospice,
an addictions clinic and a youth health clinic.

Living our values
To this day, Providence continues the mission of the five founding congregations of sisters by meeting the physical, emotional, social
and spiritual needs of patients through compassionate care, teaching and research. Providence welcomes the challenge of caring for
some of society’s most vulnerable populations. 

Global leader in health care excellence and innovation
Providence is home to St. Paul’s Hospital. St. Paul’s serves 174,000 unique patients who account for over 500,000 visits annually.
As one of two adult academic health sciences centres in B.C. (affiliated with the University of British Columbia and other postsecondary institutions), St. Paul’s is a renowned acute care hospital recognized provincially, nationally and internationally for its
work, including its several centres of excellence and affiliated research programs. In coordination with its health partners – including
the Ministry of Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority – the Providence Health Care Research
Institute leads research in more than 30 clinical specialties. This research continues to advance the lives of British Columbians
every day.


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The Week: Providence, Dutcyvich, Socialism and Blueberries

The Week: Providence, Dutcyvich, Socialism and Blueberries

It’s not quite this warm in the Comox Valley, but unseasonably so, according to local blueberry plants  |  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

This week’s announcement that a new entity called Providence Residential & Community Care Services Society (PRCC) has assumed ownership of The Views at St. Joe’s changes the long-term care picture in the Comox Valley. Providence, a nonprofit Catholic organization operating in the Lower Mainland, has more resources to fund the vision for a seniors ‘campus of care’ developed by the former St. Joe’s Board or Trustees.

Whether or not Island Health awards any of the promised, but much-delayed, new 151 long-term care beds to The Views, the PRCC will move forward with its redevelopment plans, including a dementia village concept.

But the larger question still remains: where are those promised new beds? As we reported a year ago, the shortage of long-term care beds is critical. In fact, 151 still won’t be enough to fulfill the Comox Valley’s immediate needs.

On that topic, a recent letter from a local group called Senior Voices had this to say:

“The money wasted on using hospital beds instead of residential care has increased to the tens of millions of dollars. Worse, the suffering (agony would not be too strong a word) of Comox Valley elders and their caregivers, with inadequate home care and needing residential care, has deepened, since the Valley probably needs at least 225 beds and more, with an ever-aging population. Where are the beds? Ask your government and your MLA. We deserve better.”

¶ I stand with the BC nurses in demanding written guarantees from the provincial government that more nurses should be hired for understaffed hospitals. For example, most Island Health facilities, but especially Comox Valley and Campbell River hospitals are not only understaffed they are chronically overcapacity with patients. That’s a double-whammy for nurses.

¶ David Dutcyvich, the wannabe Riverwood developer, is throwing another tantrum because the Comox Valley Regional Growth Strategy doesn’t allow him to build 1,300 homes on a hunk of rocky ground between the Puntledge and Browns rivers. He’s set up barricades armed with employees to make sure nobody sneaks onto his vacant property.

To a casual observer, it appears that in Dutcyvich’s world, a developer should be allowed to do whatever he wants, and people who deny him this God-given right should be singled out and shamed. And then sued in court.

But what Dutcyvich desperately needs is better advisors, especially in the public relations department. His various retaliations to the publicly-elected Comox Valley Regional District board’s rejection of his subdivision proposal puts him in the same category as Donald Trump shutting down the U.S. government over a hissy fit about a border wall. That is to say, he’s making more enemies than friends.

Dutcyvich says he’s cut off easy access to Stotan Falls to mitigate any risk or liability. But if he’s hoping the move will also apply public pressure on the CVRD board to cave, he’s dreaming. It might have the opposite effect.

People should just ignore the dude. There are other ways to get to Stotan Falls, if you really need to do that. But there are fun swimming holes on other local rivers. And, honestly, swimming at Goose Spit or Comox Lake is a heck of a lot safer.

¶ The CVRD and 3L were originally due in court on Jan. 17 and 18 in Vancouver, but sources tell us that’s not likely to happen, and new dates have been set.

¶ Somebody call Ontario Doug Ford ASAP! According to a North Island director on the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management board, using social procurement policies to leverage municipal spending amounts to SOCIALISM! So Premier Ford needs to know right away, because the City of Toronto practices social procurement.

¶ CVRD Area B Director Arzeena Hamir, who is also an organic farmer, reports the local blueberry plants budded in January, due to the unseasonably warm weather. That could have been good news for a long growing season, except for a short cold snap.

If the Comox Valley experiences another, longer cold period frost in the next month or two, it could mean a short growing season for blueberries. If temperatures stay above freezing, there will be a long season, and a bounty crop.

Other people have reported similar out-of-season growth. Garlic already 6 inches high. Cherry trees blooming in Vancouver and Snow Bells in Victoria. Some Rhodos, Witch Hazel and Lavender have bloomed. People have also noticed tent caterpillars.

¶ Most people don’t often think about how wastewater travels from their bathrooms to a septic field or, if you live in Courtenay, Comox, the K’omoks First Nation or CFB Comox, how it gets to the Brent Road treatment plant. Nor should you have to.

But how we convey our wastewater is important. Right now, people who live in the Comox Valley’s rural areas rely on septic systems, and Cumberland has its own system.

But the Courtenay-Comox sewerage system relies on a 35-year-old sewer pipe located in the K’omoks estuary, Comox Harbour and along the beach below the Willemar Bluffs. The way our climate is changing, this is a recipe for disaster.

The Comox Valley Regional District, which manages the sewerage system for Courtenay-Comox, is in the process of creating a Liquid Waste Management Plan that will design a future vision for conveyance and treatment of sewage in the Comox Valley. That plan could, and should, include abandoning the sewer pipes in our foreshores, and rerouting them overland.

That’s why you should think about wastewater now. Your input can influence this plan.

There are two information sessions coming up at the end of this month. The public and technical advisory committees will present an early and long list of system design options. Make sure your voice is heard.

¶ I’m proud that Canada has taken the world lead on cannabis legalization. Because of us, cannabis will finally be studied scientifically; not just for breeding and genetics as the world’s first Cannabis Innovation Centre will do, although that’s critical. But also for the science that others will do about potential medical benefits and other effects on humans.

But it baffles the mind that, three months after legalization, there are still illegal pot shops operating all over the 10 provinces. There are more than 20 illegal shops in Vancouver alone. 

If legal cannabis has any hope of eliminating the black market or even reducing it to insignificance, which we know is a process that will take years, they have to eventually close the illegal operators down. We don’t allow unlicensed breweries or other moonshiners. Why do we tolerate illegal pot shops?



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In this article, Zoe Ducklow, a reporter and photographer for The Tyee, explains nine things you need to know about the blockade by the Unist’ot’en Clan, one of five clans of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

“Brooklyn Creek is a small creekshed whose hydrology and ecological services have been altered and degraded by decades of land use impacts,” — Tim Pringle in the preface to Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Brooklyn Creek Demonstration Application in the Comox Valley.




Ecological Accounting Process — “The EAP approach begins by first recognizing the importance of a stream in a natural state and then asking: how can we maintain those ecological values while allowing the stream to be used for drainage,” says Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority with the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.


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