Front entrance of Glacier View Lodge.

Glacier View Lodge future shrouded in mystery

Comox Valley community concerned with lack of information regarding possible partnership

Terry Farrell

Record staff

There are many questions surrounding the future of Glacier View Lodge, and those in the know are giving conflicting answers.

In February, GVL announced an intention of a partnership between the Lodge, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Providence Health Care – a not-for-profit organization based out of Vancouver.

GVL executive director Michael Aikins says the prospective three-way partnership was designed with the GVL residents’, and their families’, best interests in mind.

“The demands on our current facility to provide outstanding care are increasing,” Aikins said, in a prepared statement. “Our facility is reaching the end of its lifecycle and will need to be completely redeveloped to meet the growing needs and we will need a significant influx of funds to do so.

“With the well-being of our residents and their families in mind, the board of directors and senior leadership team have been looking for partnership opportunities with experienced not-for-profit organizations that would enable us to replace our aging facility and achieve our long-term vision of improving and growing our services. The bottom line for us is to be able to continue to provide excellent residential care for seniors in the Comox Valley.”

One group in the Comox Valley is concerned that the board has not sought out different partnership opportunities, but rather has focused solely on the aforementioned three-way partnership plan announced earlier this year.

Comox Valley residents Reg Crone and Carter Power have created the Glacier View Preservation Committee, in the hopes of swaying the board’s mind on the future of the Lodge and its assets.

Crone and Power have developed their own prospective business plan for GVL to consider – a plan with two options, neither of which involve a partnership with a non-local society, such as Providence. (See complete business plan at end of article)

(The Glacier View Preservation Committee will be hosting a public forum, outlining its business plan, at the Filberg Centre on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.)

The GVL/St. Joe’s/Providence partnership would ultimately involve closing GVL, and moving all operations to St. Joseph’s property.

Both GVLPC options involve keeping Glacier View Lodge fully operational, in its current location.

Power refutes claim

Power, who sat on the GVL board for four years before stepping down in February of this year, refutes Aikins’s claim that the board sought out different partnership opportunities prior to the announcement of the three-way partnership.

“I can confirm they were not (seeking opportunities),” said Power. “The presentation that Kate Mancer made in January of 2016 basically said there were options between 2011 and 2016, but those have since disappeared.”

Mancer is a market analyst and owner of Lumina Services out of Vancouver. Lumina was commissioned by GVL in September of 2015 to research partnership opportunities.

“In January, she said ‘there are no other opportunities but Providence.’ ”

Power and Crone are concerned that the Glacier View Lodge is preparing to dismantle and sell off the land and assets to Providence, as part of the intended partnership.

Property assessed at $8.7M

The land and buildings for the Glacier View Lodge, which overlooks the farmland west of Back Road, was assessed in June 2016 at $8,767,000 – an increase $668,000 over the previous year.

There is no mortgage.

When asked what the prospective partnership meant to the land and assets of GVL, Aikins was vague.

“No decisions have been made and these specifics still need to be worked through,” he said in his statement.

He was no more forthcoming when asked who would own the land title, although documents acquired by The Record indicate that the GVL property will be turned over to Providence before the end of the year.

As documented in the minutes from the Friday, June 23 Society Members’ Engagement Meeting, board members Allan Douglas, Margaret Szafron and James Taylor made a Powerpoint presentation stating that, among other things, “In November 2017, the plan will be for GVL to dissolve and Providence will take over liability and assets of GVL, which includes the land.”

It is also stated in those minutes that Providence will bring “expertise, but no money” into the partnership.

(Scroll down for a PDF of the meeting minutes)

At that same meeting, GVL board chair Bob Scales – who declined to be interviewed by The Record – stated voting on the future of GVL “… is planned for our September 21st AGM.”

In Aikins’s prepared statement, he claims no decisions are imminent.

“We understand that the public has an interest in the future of GVL but that issue isn’t being determined at this AGM. No decisions on amalgamation will be made at the AGM as our due diligence process will not have concluded at that time.”

MAiD not the main issue

Another issue at stake is the one of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).

Crone and Power are both outspoken advocates of the legislated right – a legislation not recognized by the Catholic church, which owns both St. Joseph’s Hospital and Providence Health Care.

Crone was asked whether the GVLPC stance on the partnership would change if it involved a secular non-local partner.

“It wouldn’t change (our perspective),” he said. “MAiD is the thing that triggered all this – that’s what brought it to everybody’s attention, but giving away, from the community, assets worth $12-$20 million to the Catholic church, or even to a secular organization, that takes it out of the ownership of the community, is the thing that is fundamentally wrong.”

Power and Crone presented their options to the GVL board on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

One of their options is a community-controlled board; the other is a partnership with Island Health.

According to Mancer, a partnership with Island Health is not an option.

“Island Health is not interested in operating GVL. They are getting out of the business,” she said, at the June 23 meeting.

AGM closed to the public

The Sept. 21 Glacier View Lodge AGM is closed to the public.

When Aikins was asked whether GVL has ever had an AGM closed to the public before, he skirted the question, saying instead, “in my five years with Glacier View Lodge, we have never had a request from a non-Society member to attend one of our AGMs.”

Power claims Glacier View Lodge AGMs have always been open to the public prior to this one.

Record editor Terry Farrell was denied a Glacier View Lodge Society membership on Sept. 5.

In his prepared statement, Aikins claimed, “We are still accepting Society memberships, however due to a legal matter, we have been advised by our lawyers to hold all new applications in abeyance until the legal matter has been resolved and our membership policies have been reviewed.”

That is also in contradiction with the June 23 Society Members’ Engagement Meeting.

In its last order of business, an alleged “closure of membership to the society” was addressed and it was stated that July 20 was the cutoff date for new memberships.

As of a July 27 meeting, the membership committee had 40 applications for memberships, all of which are still waiting approval.

GVLPC Business Plan-2017 by CVRecord on Scribd

GVL Assets June 2017 by CVRecord on Scribd

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The spectacular view of the valley and the Comox Glacier - the inspiration for Glacier View Lodge’s name.

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