After years of debate over what to do with the former Cariboo Lodge property on Fourth Avenue, Williams Lake City Council endorsed a resolution Tuesday evening that will see the building and land sold to a private company for $10.
Council agreed to sell the lodge property, plus all associated costs, to inSite Housing, Hospitality and Health Services Inc.
Interior Health announced Sept. 8 that funding had been approved for 70 new residential care beds in Williams Lake, subject to a competitive bid process.
InSite intends to make a bid on this project, Mayor Walt Cobb said.
Under the proposal he said demolition of the building and construction of a new facility would be at no cost to the city.
He said the city received prior approval from Interior Health to sell the property to inSite because there is a restrictive covenant on the site.
“Regardless of whether inSite is successful in their bid for the 70 unit care facility announced by the province, they intend to build a care facility on that site,” Cobb said.
InSite Housing, Hospitality and Health Services will also be required to honour the terms of the existing lease between the City of Williams Lake and Canadian Mental Health Association, Cariboo Chilcotin Branch, which expires January 14, 2020.
Except for the CMHA residential program in the former Heritage House the majority of the lodge property has been vacant since the city assumed ownership of the property from Interior Health in 2008 for $10.
While mostly empty Cobb said the property has been costing the city approximately $30,000 a year for insurance and maintenance.
“I think this is a blessing for the city,” Cobb said. “It has been a long time coming. I was so disappointed that Cariboo Lodge was shut down in the first place.”
He said the site is in a prime downtown location for a care facility and he understands the inSite project will be similar to the Seniors Village in that it will include independent/assisted living apartments as well as the 70 care beds.
The Williams Lake Tribune/Weekend Advisor is also in the process of seeking an interview with inSite representative on their plans for the site.
Council has provided written notice to Interior Health, advising of the city’s intention to dispose of the property.
To ensure the competitive bid process is as timely as possible, Interior Health said earlier that procurement activities would begin in September with Request for Proposals. IHA also noted it was anticipated that contracts would be awarded by mid-winter and new beds would be completed by the summer of 2018.
IHA said the exact locations of the new beds would be determined by the competitive bid process.
The decision to sell to inSite comes after years of discussion over what to do with the old facility.
In 2014, the City issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) for a non-profit housing society to enter into a partnership for redevelopment of the Cariboo Lodge site, to help address the City’s affordable housing needs.
The vision of the partnership at that time was for a non-profit society to work alongside the City to design the project, however, no partnerships were formed.