The Premier of British Columbia was in Courtenay today for a groundbreaking ceremony.

John Horgan was joined by Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard and several others to stick shovels in the dirt for a new long-term care and hospice facility.

Ocean Front Village, which is being built at 2900 Cliffe Avenue, will have 120 long-term care beds and six hospice beds.  Two of those hospice beds are new. The other four are moving from The Views at St. Joseph’s.

“This project will help us meet the growing demand for long-term care in our community and give seniors and their loved ones the care and support they need, close to home,” said Leonard.

The facility is being publicly funded, but privately built.  It’s going to be run by Golden Life Management, a Canadian company that owns and operates a number of seniors’ housing and care homes in B.C. and Alberta.

Horgan said this model will “ensure that the continuum of care that people want and expect in their community will be there for them. Compassionate, long-term care, end of life care, that meets the needs of everyone in the community, is how we need to proceed and how we will proceed here.”

The facility is projected to cost $28.2 million to build. Part of the cost is coming from the late Catherine “Mamie” Aitken.

Aitken, the daughter of a family who settled the Comox Valley back in 1911, bequeathed $2 million to the Comox Valley Community Foundation for a hospice when she passed away four years ago. Horgan said it was “very exciting” to be at the ceremony to talk about how the government can provide better quality care not only in the valley but right across BC as well.

We believe, as you all do, that people as they age in place need to have some confidence that there will be facilities available to them, to provide quality, long-term care and today is the beginning of that journey for many of us.”

The B.C. government is investing more than $1 billion over three years in seniors, including investments in primary care, home health, long-term care and assisted living.

The province is also investing $75 million over three years to expand respite and adult day services, and $240 million over three years to increase staffing levels in long-term care homes.

It’s aiming to hit 3.36 hours per-resident day on average across all health authorities by the end of 2020-21.

“That means bringing in more licenced practical nurses, more nurse practitioners, working with doctors, working with specialists, working with care aides to make sure that the continuum of care is there for us. Dieticians, psychologists, social workers, everyone who can contribute to the well-being of an individual is part of the primary care network,” Horgan told the crowd at the ceremony.

“The best place for that to happen is in a community that has a brand new hospital, and a community that will have 120 new long-term care beds right here and six publicly funded hospice beds, so that the Ocean Front Village, the people of the Comox Valley will be able to get the care that they need as they age with dignity in the place that they love, the place they call home. “

Ocean Front Village is expected to be finished in the spring of 2021.