Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea
Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea is set to open in Comox in approximately three years’ time. Using the concepts of a dementia village, our vision includes smaller households that support freedom of movement, access to nature, and interaction with the community, including intergenerational connections.
About the name
In July 2021, the Providence Living Board selected “Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea" as the name for the building that will replace The Views at St. Joseph’s.
The name for this exciting project reflects discussions with St. Paul's Foundation and the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation; The Views staff, residents and families; K'ómoks First Nation and Providence Health Care.
Including “Providence Living” in the name reflects our commitment to innovation in seniors’ care. Among our latest initiatives is a new resident-centred care model with a focus on building emotional and social connections, flexible routines, collaborative teams, and an environment that feels like home.
The word “Living” also speaks to how we’re creating places where seniors can truly live, flourish and stay vital by honouring their uniqueness and offering opportunities to engage in community.
Providence Living is committed to responding to needs in other communities throughout the province. Including “Place” followed by a unique modifier such as “Together by the Sea” as the naming convention for these projects will support acknowledgment of a unique sense of character and community for each.
About the project
Providence Living, the owner of The Views at St. Joseph's at 2137 Comox Avenue shown shaded on the map below, is planning to develop a 156-bed long-term care facility on this property. All resident spaces in the new build will replace those currently at The Views.
Because the resident spaces at The Views are publicly funded, as well as those in the new facility, access is coordinated by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.
Currently, the subject property at 2137 Comox Avenue contains:
- long-term care and hospice services (The Views at St. Joseph’s) – note the hospice services will transfer to a new long-term care home being built in Courtenay and The Views will replace these with respite beds
- adult day program
- tenant services including a thrift shop, and child care, educational, professional and community services
What we are proposing
On a portion of undeveloped land bordering Comox Avenue, we are proposing building a two-story, 156-bed long-term care home that will replace The Views.
The redevelopment is being designed using the concepts of a dementia village and will include amenities such as a bistro, child care centre, art studio, and community space. It would be built to conform to the Town of Comox standards.
As part of the planning process — and based on Providence Living’s values and a recommendation from the Town of Comox Planning Department — we were happy to seek feedback from the community before submitting our plans to the Town.
Thank you to all who submitted their comments during our Online Open House, which ran from January 27 to February 17, 2021.
Our public consultation is now closed. All written submissions provided during the pre-application consultation process have been submitted to the Town of Comox.
How we plan to address the feedback
Traffic and parking
- Parking will be developed in coordination with the Town and Bylaws.
- Given the nature of the development (i.e. a similar number of residents as before), once built, the new building will not attract any more traffic than the current site.
Building siting, appearance, exterior features
- The Online Open House (now closed) provided an opportunity for the community to submit additional feedback on the siting and appearance of the development.
- The project team will be working with residents and their families, staff, Indigenous communities, partners and stakeholders to gather feedback for our work to provide an innovative living environment both in physical design and provision of care.
Residents and families share their thoughts
Because we're committed to listening to our residents and their families, and we value their input, we've heard directly from them about what's important in The Views redevelopment project. This way, we can do our absolute best to build a place and community that reflects what our residents most want and need.
To hear directly from those who shared their thoughts with us, please take a couple of minutes to watch our video featuring some great ideas and advice from residents and families at The Views.
Frequently Asked Questions
Building siting and appearance
- Why can’t you just renovate the space you have now?
Our primary duty is to provide great care for our residents in an appropriate and safe environment. After careful review — which includes considering advice from architects, development consultants, and the Vancouver Island Health Authority (Island Health) as our funding partner — we have determined it’s not feasible to renovate the existing buildings for the following reasons:
- The former St. Joseph’s Hospital building was not purpose-built to provide care for seniors, especially those living with dementia and other frailties.
- We are committed to creating an innovative environment based on the concepts of a dementia village. It’s not possible to create this environment by renovating the existing buildings, as this would compromise the overall building design.
- To support privacy, dignity and quality of life for our residents, the new building will provide single rooms with private bathrooms for all residents. Redeveloping the existing space to provide all single rooms with private bathrooms would result in fewer resident spaces overall. This conflicts with the need for more long-term care beds in the community.
- A new building built to the latest standards and incorporating the latest technology will be more energy-efficient and meet current requirements.
- Lessons learned from COVID-19 have reinforced the importance of improved infection prevention and control measures for our residents and staff, including better building ventilation.
- Why was the northeast portion of the St. Joseph’s site chosen over any other potential area?
The previous schematics and siting were conceptual in nature. As with any large-scale infrastructure project, a comprehensive assessment of where the building will be located (siting) is part of the development process. This includes:
- the results of various assessments, including a geotechnical study and an assessment of the slope of the property
- advice from architects and development consultants
- consideration of how the current site must support ongoing operations and care for our residents during construction
Based on this feedback, the north-east corner was determined to be the most appropriate location for a new building.
- How will you address the impact this redevelopment will have on the views of neighbouring properties?
We understand the loss of views is an issue for those impacted. We have heard these concerns, and have taken them into consideration by designing the building to be two stories above grade (i.e. above the ground) on Comox Avenue, with a mostly flat roof, to reduce the impact on neighbouring views.
- You stated the building is going to be two storeys, but the front entrance appears to have three storeys. Is this a two- or three-storey building?
The new building will have two stories above grade (i.e. above the ground) along Comox Avenue. The building will transition from two to three stories, moving north to south and west to east, to compensate for the significant slope of the property. Given how the land slopes, a partial lower level has been created. This supports needs for the overall development, such as some underground parking, space for support functions, and the children’s day care centre.
We are keeping the living spaces to two stories in order to provide a more home-like environment for our residents. This also supports a large, flat interior courtyard to create a beautiful outdoor setting versus a more typical multi-storey long-term care home.
By designing the new care home to work with the slope of the property, and by keeping it to two storeys above grade, the new building minimizes the impact on existing views and will be more consistent with the surrounding neighbourhood.
As the redevelopment is still in planning stages, the exact height of the building and any rooftop additions (such as HVAC systems) are not yet known.
Overall site design
- What will happen to the buildings currently located on the site? Will you upgrade the look of the old hospital to match the look of the new build?
To support the new build, we will need to demolish the front portion of the old acute care hospital building closest to Comox Avenue. The remaining portion of the hospital and other buildings must remain in place until the new building is finished, as these provide accommodations, care, supports and utilities for our residents.
Regarding the entire 14-acre site in Comox, our long-term vision includes creating a vibrant care community with a range of housing and services to support aging in place on a single site. In addition to long-term care and specialized dementia care, this may include independent living, supportive housing, outreach and day programs, services, and affordable seniors’ housing.
Master site planning for other innovative developments on the 14-acre Comox campus is beginning in summer 2021. This will include plans for the existing buildings, as well as the process and timelines for this work.
How will this new development benefit the neighbourhood and community?
This new development provides an innovative approach to seniors’ care. The new building design will create vibrancy, engagement and joy for residents, families, staff, and the broader community. Once the new building is finished, we will welcome the neighbouring community to become part of our onsite community.
Amenities in the new build will be destinations and points of interest for everyone and their families to use and enjoy, such as the children’s daycare, art studio, resident coffee shop, and chapel. Visitors and area neighbours will be able to drop by and become part of our care home community, whether that means spending time in the gardens, renting community space, or visiting the spiritual space onsite.
A big part of what motivates us is creating an environment for seniors that encourages genuine interactions, including intergenerational connections, to help create a life of joy, purpose and belonging for all. To support this, Providence Living is thrilled to have selected the Comox Valley Children's Day Care Society to operate the children's daycare that will become part of Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea.
As a non-profit organization, any funds Providence Living receives are reinvested into meeting the needs of the people we serve. Further, we provide for good jobs with competitive salaries and benefits.
Providence Living has also committed to a robust evaluation of our care model and building design to understand the benefits of this approach and how it can be improved. This knowledge will be shared with the broader long-term care sector to benefit others who may pursue this approach in their communities.
- What will happen with the tenants currently operating on the old hospital site?
We have established an impressive community onsite since the acute care hospital closed. This includes a children’s daycare, thrift shop, community services, and a health education space.
Tenants are all aware of the plans for the site. We anticipate most will continue operating through construction. Through master site planning, we will assess and identify future services to be located onsite for the long term.
Traffic and parking
- What are the plans for onsite parking, offsite parking and traffic flow?
There will be some underground parking as well as surface lots to provide sufficient parking for the new long-term care build. Offsite parking will be developed in coordination with the Town of Comox Planning Department.
Given the nature of the development (i.e. a similar number of residents as before), once built, the new building is not expected to attract any more traffic than the current site.
There is currently ample parking around the facility. We are aware there will be unique parking needs through construction, and if these needs exceed what is available onsite, we will work with our contractors, the Town of Comox and neighbors to minimize any issues.
Trees and landscaping
What is your plan for the trees currently located on the property and for landscaping around the new building?
The new building will have a secure interior courtyard, which will provide safe access to gardens, trees and opportunities to enjoy the therapeutic quality of nature.
As yet, we have not determined a need to remove any trees currently on the site. We will work closely with the Town of Comox regarding trees should this issue arise.
Costs and accessibility
- What is the cost per person to reside in the new Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea?
All beds in the new build will be part of the publicly funded bed system, just like the current beds are at The Views. The fee would be the same for a resident to reside at this home or any other publicly funded long-term care home in British Columbia. Currently, monthly long-term care rates are based on 80% of a person’s after-tax income, subject to a minimum and maximum monthly rate.
- Will only people with dementia be able to live in the new build?
While the majority of residents in long-term care homes (approximately 70%) live with dementia, the unique design features of Providence Living Place, Together by the Sea will support residents with physical frailty, medical conditions and other needs.
The resident population will be mixed between those with dementia and those with other needs, as is the case currently at The Views at St. Joseph’s. As we are a publicly funded facility, Island Health assesses the needs of those requiring long-term care and works with Providence Living to place residents based on their needs.
- How will you ensure the facility is accessible to all people?
A key objective for Providence Living is to ensure that our buildings, programs and services are accessible to all individuals, including people with disabilities. We are aware that many of our residents, families, and visitors have accessibility needs and we will continue to identify, prevent and remove any barriers on an ongoing basis, in a timely manner.
The new building will be built to current accessibility standards. We work in partnership with residents, families, staff, volunteers, the Town of Comox, Island Health, and the community at large to meet, and exceed where possible, the requirements of B.C.’s accessibility legislation to demonstrate leadership on our commitment to access.
Field & Marten Associates
2137 Comox Avenue
Comox, B.C. V9M 1P2
604-582-3393, extension 4