The announcement by mayoral candidate Scott Nelson regarding the future of the Cariboo Lodge complex has been met with support by the Seniors’ Advisory Council of Williams Lake and Area.
On Tuesday Nelson publicly declared the lodge — that is owned by the City and whose future is to be determined with the assistance of a City-designated task force that is currently in place —would be handed back to community seniors for them to determine its future.
“What we’re doing is the task force would be thanked for the duties they provided and shut down,” Nelson said.
“We would work with seniors and give them the opportunity to determine what they want to do with the lodge.”
Nelson added the City would be a “key partner” with seniors but that it wouldn’t make the decision regarding the lodge’s future for them. A financial commitment from the City could be offered, he said.
“We’ll be a key player to help develop it for what they want to do but I don’t want to be the one to tell them what to put inside of it and what to do with it. It’s their building and it’s an area of town that stays senior oriented and that’s the bottom line.”
Audrey MacLise, speaking for the Seniors’ Advisory Council of Williams Lake and Area, said the organization supports the development of this “strategic location” for seniors housing in the downtown area.
MacLise says the group would like to see a mix of independent housing consisting of market and affordable housing developed on the Cariboo Lodge site. She’s aware the existing facility would likely have to be demolished.
“Being in the downtown core it would allow seniors to walk for their groceries, walk to the bank, walk to the library,” MacLise said of the property’s favourable location.
The seniors group would expect some financial assistance from the City, but MacLise says there are other agencies like B.C. Housing and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation that could also provide funds for the project.
Following the closure of the facility a decade ago, Nelson and city council, along with community seniors brokered a deal for the lodge with the Interior Health Authority.
Nelson says what he proposed at the time — that it be used for seniors — he would like to see come to fruition.
MacLise is a member of the Cariboo Lodge Task Force currently looking at development options for the facility.