West Van seniors rental project going to public hearing

If the developer gets to build a 48-unit seniors rental building on the 700 block of Keith Road – how much cash should West Vancouver get?

That seemed to be the outstanding question June 10 as West Van council voted unanimously to send a six-storey apartment building proposal to public hearing scheduled for July 8.

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If approved, Milliken Real Estate Corp. would consolidate 727 and 701 Keith Rd., linking the new rental building with the 90-unit Amica Lions Gate assisted living facility, formerly Maison Senior Living. Milliken is also offering a $219,000 community amenity contribution to the district.

The figure sounds low, according to Coun. Craig Cameron, who noted the development would replace one vacant single-family home with 675-square-foot apartments that would likely be rented for between $6,000 and $7,000 a month. A tenant requiring less care might pay $4,000 a month.

With an estimated staff of between 60 and 70 full-time workers, Milliken faces “huge operating costs,” according to the company’s chief operating officer Kate Milliken Binns.

“It’s challenging to attract staff to the North Shore . . . and we’re really starting to feel that pinch,” she said, explaining the company has sometimes had to resort to using temporary staffing agencies to provide care.

Approximately 90 per cent of Amica’s employees take transit, according to Binns.

“They’re going to have to [take transit] because there’s no parking on the road network,” said Coun. Bill Soprovich.

The apartment building would have an underground parkade with 26 stalls in addition to six surface and 32 existing parkade spots at Amica. With a shuttle and nearby transit, most tenants will not be driving, according to Binns.

“We believe that more than half of our residents will not be driving at all by the time they come to live with us. That’s just the nature of our demographic.”

West Vancouver’s demographics necessitate the development, according to Binns, who noted more than one-quarter of seniors in the municipality live alone.

Part of the problem is the lack of single-level housing options near transit, according to Binns.

“Seniors and young families alike are unable to find the right housing to meet their [housing] needs,” she said.

The project would: “provide for a continuum of senior’s living and care on the expanded site,” according to a district staff report recommending council support the development.

Amica Lions Gate has been “full with a wait list” since opening. Most of West Vancouver’s 1,900 purpose-built rental units date back to the 1960s and ‘70s, according to a district staff report.

The new 48 units would be secured as rental in perpetuity.

The project would require an official community plan amendment.

Milliken Real Estate Corp. is obligated to hold a public information meeting prior to the July 8 public hearing.

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