VCH will ‘ensure’ contract with Trellis fulfilled, says province

Delays may be plaguing the project, but a contract to build a long-term care facility on the Sunshine Coast won’t be cancelled.

“Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) will ensure that their contract with Trellis Seniors Services is fulfilled,” said the Ministry of Health in a statement to Coast Reporter, a week after it was confirmed that the proposed deal between VCH, Trellis and shíshálh Nation to build a long-term care facility on Nation lands had fallen through.

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“The need for a new long-term care home to replace Shorncliffe and Totem Lodge remains a priority for the Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal,” the statement said.

On Oct. 25, shortly after Coast Reporter learned that the deal had fallen through, VCH confirmed Trellis is expected to reactivate its development application to build the facility on the originally proposed site on Derby Road in Sechelt.

When the project was first announced in 2016, the facility was expected to open August 2019.

The Ministry of Health also referenced the deal between several unions, Trellis and VCH that was announced last February that would protect unionized workers.

“We are pleased that employees’ jobs, wages and benefits have been protected and look forward [to] having new homes for Sechelt seniors in the future,” said the statement.

“We can appreciate that some community members will be disappointed with the delay but we feel confident that the developer and the health authority are moving the project forward, thoughtfully and as swiftly as possible.”

While the statement did not address whether the need for long-term care beds on the Sunshine Coast has surpassed the number of beds in the original proposal, in an email to Coast Reporter, Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons acknowledged a discrepancy.

“We already need more spaces than have been planned, so while this is a sign of progress, unfortunately we still have to wait,” Simons said. “The original concerns around jobs and continuity of care have already been addressed, but as the need for long-term care grows, any delay is frustrating.”

He said 14 beds have been added at Sechelt Hospital “as a stopgap measure” until the new home is open, and that the province “has invested heavily in programs designed to allow more seniors to age in place, which should improve quality of life and lighten the pressure on facilities.”

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