More than 16 years ago a group of community-minded volunteers from the small Vancouver Island coastal community of Bowser felt there was a need for independent and supportive housing for seniors living in the area. Together, they founded Bowser Seniors Housing Society (BSHS).
The seniors in Bowser have raised their children and created a vibrant community. In their twilight years, the kids have moved away, their partners may have passed, and they can no longer do the work required to live on their own. At the present time, they have no alternative but to move to larger towns or cities that are not familiar to their daily lives. Living away from their friends and support systems is not a choice they make lightly and and usually they find themselves living in isolation from the life they have lived for so many years.
To solve this problem, Bowser Seniors Housing Society identified some Crown Land and began fundraising. Now this group has more than sixty volunteers and more than 150 members. Their team has more than 50 dates on the fundraising calendar.
Many of the volunteers are newcomers to the Bowser community. They realize that one day, they too will need a place to live when they get older.
A great way to give back to their new community.
On top of personal community donations, Bowser Senior Housing Society fundraising consists of raffle tickets sales, pancake breakfasts, garage sales, helping at catering events, hot dog sales, sandcastles, and their annual BSHS Gala attended by 250+ people (in non-COVID years). This event is consistently sold.
With the donation of Crown Land offered for the building site in the heart of Bowser Village, BSHS now has to partner with BC Housing and CMHC to fund the building of what will be called Lighthouse Villa, as the area around Bowser is referred to as Lighthouse Country.
The organization has been working through the slow processes, red tape and policies of various government departments. But there have been some very positive gains in the past couple years, with members now seeing some light in the tunnel.
Recent headway includes progress on their Crown Land Lease and submission of the Building & Development Permit applications. The group hopes to begin work with arborists this next year to prepare the site.
When built, Lighthouse Villa, will have 22 units of affordable accommodation for up to thirty seniors. Four of these units will be subsidized by CMHC, eleven units will be rent-geared to income, and the remaining seven units will be market rate.
These units will enable seniors to have access to socialization with old and new friends, be within walking distance to the library, grocery store, gift shop, coffee shop, bank, legion, and a pharmacist. Their friends will be close by and able to drop in for a visit and provide support when needed.
The hope, wish and dream of Bowser Seniors Housing Society is to keep our seniors close to home where they gave so much of themselves. Every day they are moving one step closer to seeing this dream become a reality.