Society secretary Brian Brady

Society secretary Brian Brady

Seniors’ housing society ponders future

Castlegar's Rota Villa has decision coming up by June

Rota Villa residents heard in a meeting last week that their residential future is in their own hands.

Many of the the folks who live in the 40-suite seniors facility located on 11th Street and 7th Avenue have been concerned about a possible change in the administration of the complex which has been directed for a number of years by an independent society following it’s original construction which had been arranged by Castlegar Rotarians.

The number of members on the society board has dwindled over the years and there has been talk of the Villa being turned over to the BC Housing Corp. as a result. Such a change could mean increased peace of mind for residents, but rent hikes would be part of the deal as well.

At a meeting last June a majority of residents voted to support the idea of a changeover to BC Housing but the vote did not hit the 75 per cent required by society bylaws.

Therefore, a March 20 meeting was called in order to update residents of the situation in advance of this year’s AGM which is coming up in June.

Present at the meeting was Castlegar City Councillor Deb McIntosh who paid close attention to the goings on before weighing in late in the session. Her advice was of particular interest to those in favour of preserving the status quo – maintaining the Villa society and it’s stewardship of the residence.

By way of a bit of background, the property is valued at about $1.7 million. There are two mortgages ($198,000 and $35,000, with monthly payments of $2,500 and $1,900, respectively. Rents currently range from $265 for a studio apartment, to $390 for a larger unit – far lower than market value. Occupancy, for the first time in several years, is currently 100 per cent.

The opinion among many residents seemed to be that BC Housing will eagerly step in the moment it is asked. Society secretary Brian Brady was not so sure, suggesting  the following day that, “They’re not eager to take it over at all because it just means an extra workload for them. The monetary value doesn’t enter into it. They’re civil servants. There’s no obligation to take it over. They said ‘we’d rather see you do it, but if that’s what you people think is best then we will step in.”

If BC Housing were to take over the basic rent would be 30 per cent of a tenant’s income.

Following last year’s vote for throwing in the Villa’s lot with BC Housing, a seven-member board was dissolved. If the society is to continue, a new board of 5-9 members will be required.

Coun. McIntosh told the residents it’s up to them to recruit new board members, which, by the way, do not have to be residents.

“If you want to fight for your homes, roll up your sleeves and get recruiting.”

McIntosh concluded, “Senior’s housing is one of the biggest things in the province now. Tell your sons and daughters if they don’t join the board, you’re moving in with them.”