Moving 52 individuals into their new home at the former Tally Ho Motel on Douglas Street has been a gradual process, according to Don McTavish.
The director of residential services for the Victoria Cool Aid Society, which is operating the renovated facility, said Thursday that roughly 40 people have moved in so far. Most have come from the Choices Transitional Home, which is closing down Saturday (March 31) at the former youth corrections facility in View Royal.
“It’s still quick doing it over a couple of weeks, but it’s working out really well,” he said of the transfer, which saw some people moved in from other Cool Aid facilities. Choices was operated by the Our Place Society. “It’s calm and quiet and we’ve got programming happening already.”
Activities include a ready to rent program designed to create good tenant-landlord relations, music and other recreation, a health protocol with doctors and nurses from Cool Aid’s clinic, and a meals program that will see residents staff the industrial kitchen on site.
“The intent is to have some of the residents gain experience and skills to help them successfully apply for entry level jobs in kitchens,” McTavish said.
Renovations on the vacant building began after the City of Victoria granted Cool Aid a three-year temporary use permit to operate it as a transitional housing facility. The rooms for the 52 residents each have their own washroom – a step up for those who were at Choices – and the former Hideaway restaurant has been converted into the dining room and lounge.
“Sadly, we had to fill in the pool, but we’ve put topsoil and grass and planted bushes in there to create an outdoor common area,” McTavish said. Given the temporary permit status, the renovations were not as extensive as if it were a permanent change, he added.
Cool Aid is looking to work with the Burnside Gorge Neighbourhood Association on longer-term plans for the site. While still in its early stages, the anchor feature would be a supported housing development on the current back parking lot.
McTavish said Cool Aid doesn’t want to rush the process and admitted three years is a “pretty fast turnaround the get something done.”
For now, however, the focus is on creating a place that 52 people will be glad to call home.
“It’s been a really nice transition. These folks have been living together as a community for a year and a half, and it’s nice to be able to move folks from one community to another,” McTavish said.