Lorna Pennock, 99, cuts the cake at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Willow Point Supportive Living Society on Saturday. The group provides dwellings at below-market rates. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River supportive living facility celebrates 25 years amid housing crunch

Willow Point Supportive Living Society provides rental units to low-income seniors

The Willow Point Supportive Living Society – which provides affordable housing to low-income seniors – celebrated its 25th anniversary on Saturday amid a growing crisis in affordable housing.

People celebrating the milestone included 99-year-old Lorna Pennock, the oldest resident at the society’s housing complex, Forde House. After cutting the cake, she praised the organization.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s everything I need.”

One of the longtime residents who was in attendance for the party was Margaret Patterson, 90, who has lived at the Willow Point complex for more than 23 years.

“I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere,” she said. “I’m going to stay here as long as I can manage.”

Speakers at the event stressed the lack of housing faced by low-income seniors in Campbell River.

“We need another 90 units,” said Terry Fulton, former Willow Point Supportive Living Society manager. “We could fill it twice with the waiting list we’ve got.”

He noted that construction costs have spiked since the facility opened a quarter century ago, far exceeding the financial means of the organization, which rents its dwellings at below-market rates.

“It’s extremely expensive to try to build,” Fulton said. “There’s no way the society can build a facility and offer affordable housing without huge, huge influxes of money.”

The city would likely provide land, Fulton said, but that only accounts for a small fraction of expenses.

READ MORE: Providing Campbell River seniors with support, independence and dignity

Mayor Andy Adam, one of the speakers at the event, said that “affordable housing and looking after our seniors is critically important to the current council and will [be] for future councils moving ahead.”

Adams is running uncontested for his second term as mayor in council elections that take place on Saturday. He said that Campbell River is working with BC Housing to develop affordable dwellings for the most vulnerable, including seniors.

Glenn Cooper, who became manager of the Willow Point Supportive Living Society last year, confirmed the waiting list is several years long at the complex, which has 48 units currently occupied by 52 people.

Cooper said the transition to living at the facility can be difficult for people used to their longtime homes but that residents soon discover a strong community.

“They always say the same thing: ‘I am never leaving here,’” Cooper said. “They have this wonderful community, it’s connected [and] they look out for each other.”

READ MORE: Housing in Campbell River is less accessible, assessment report finds

The complex provides housing to single people with incomes of up to $30,000 per year, or couples with combined incomes of up to $40,000.

Seniors must also have liquid assets worth below $50,000 to be eligible to live at the Willow Point facility.

A report on regional housing needs released earlier this year by the Strathcona Community Health Network said that rent in Campbell River has increased by 42 per cent over the past decade. Meanwhile, the vacancy rate has plunged from seven per cent to 1.3 per cent.

The report notes that seniors are among the most vulnerable when it comes to housing, along with people on low incomes, First Nations people and those with mental health or addictions issues.

-With files from Mike Chouinard


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Margaret Patterson, 90, has lived at the Willow Point Supportive Living Society’s complex for more than 23 years. “I’m going to stay here as long as I can manage,” she said. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Storm add big net presence to roster

Goalie Robert Michetti boasts impressive numbers

Injured owl begins recovery at MARS

Western screech owl was showing signs of a head trauma

Two Campbell River First Nations advance to final stage of treaty negotiation

The Campbell River-based Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations have signed… Continue reading

City of Campbell River to replace pumper truck at No. 2 Hall

Old truck to be moved into reserve roll for five years before decision is made on disposal options

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Injured owl begins recovery at MARS

Western screech owl was showing signs of a head trauma

Scheer repeats call on RCMP to investigate Trudeau’s actions in SNC affair

Ethics watchdog Mario Dion found that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act

Maxime Bernier tells party faithful he will make it into the leaders’ debates

The People’s Party of Canada does not meet the current requirements

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okanagan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Most Read