The Village of Cache Creek has sent an Expression of Interest to BC Housing regarding the future of the Immaculate Heart of Mary property on Stage Road.
BC Housing purchased the property in February 2022, and is the owner of the 15-acre site, which includes a 13,000-square-foot building that contains office space, 26 hotel-style bedrooms, a chapel with outdoor amphitheatre, banquet space, a commercial kitchen, and a 16’ x 32’ indoor pool.
The chapel was built in the early 1980s, and the main building in 1989. Cache Creek CAO Damian Couture says that it is dated, but well-maintained, and that everything in it is well cared for. One of the two houses on the site is occupied, but the other is not currently habitable.
In late September the village arranged public tours of the facility, and Couture says that more than 100 people toured the building and provided feedback on possible uses for the site.
“It’s pretty good attendance for a community of 1,000, and it’s exciting for the area, not just for Cache Creek. The fact that 100 people showed up shows that people are interested and want to learn more about the site.”
He adds that while the majority of the people who toured the property had a positive response, and seemed to be in favour of doing something with the site, the biggest question that kept coming up was about ownership of the property.
“Cache Creek does not own the property; it’s solely owned by BC Housing,” says Couture. “There are lots of ways things could move forward, and they were looking for Expressions of Interest and wanting to hear from a variety of organizations.
“The village is an interested party, and the goal of the tours was to get an idea of some things the public would want to see. We can sit and guess, but unless we engage with the public and get feedback we don’t know what to pursue.”
Couture says that while the exact nature of a partnership would have to be determined, housing was the key issue that was raised during the tours, and notes that BC Housing agrees that the property should be used in some way for housing.
“It’s not necessarily the village’s job to get involved with housing, but we can spearhead development. If we know there’s a large property like this that is developable we — staff and council — can look for agencies to develop that, but we need to ensure that’s what the public wants.”
Specifically, seniors’ housing was the biggest thing overall, and was brought up by multiple people in each of the three groups that took the tour. Temporary housing, which would allow professional people to start work immediately in the community or area and then transition into permanent housing, was also mentioned, as was emergency housing, with Couture noting that the building has a suite containing a bedroom, bathroom, full kitchen, living room, and dining room.
“We could keep the suite as is, and if someone is displaced due to flood or fire we can put them up in that space.
“Another idea that came up was an introduction to the homeowner market. So many people are in a situation where they can’t afford to pay rent and save up to own a home. There are programs that subsidise rent payment, so that the rent amount goes to help people save up for a down-payment. The undeveloped residential area has potential. There are lots of young families in the area, and if they had ‘rent to own’ then their options would be significant.”
While the entire site comprises 15 acres of land, only five acres around, and to the east of, the current building can be developed. The property to the west cannot be developed for structural, archaeological, and heritage reasons.
Couture says that there was good support for the idea of consolidating all the village services at the one location, which would involve moving the village office on Quartz Road, the fitness centre at the community hall, and the public works department, also on Quartz Road. “Operations could move there, and have office space and a lunch room. It makes sense to operate out of the same building rather than a bunch of different ones.”
There was also pretty strong support for the development of health services, and having some of the rooms dedicated to commercial use.
“You could have a doctor’s office there a couple of days a week, or physiotherapist offices, or have community services like ServiceBC or probation officers come once a week. We have services that are offered nearby but the transportation is an issue. We strive to have good transit between the communities, but people’s needs might not line up with the transit schedule.”
He adds that the village does not want to duplicate services with Ashcroft and compete for the same resources: “We want to supplement Ashcroft services and provide things for Cache Creek. If you have the means to transport yourself you can make an appointment [in Ashcroft], but if you don’t then it’s more difficult.”
Another big source of conversation was the indoor pool at the site.
“Each group had a very different feel for it, and there were pros and cons in every group. Some really saw the benefit of how it could help the community, and said the pool doesn’t have to be big to offer service. Quite a few people were vocally in favour, but there were as many vocally against it, saying the cost would be too high. It’s definitely a point for future discussion.”
Couture says that there is no commitment on the village’s part to do anything with the site; they merely wanted to have a conversation with people, gauge public feeling, and then submit an Expression of Interest stating what they heard from people about what they would like to see.
“We said that we are interested in the property, and these are suggestions that the public had for use of the space. It might be [the village] that does it, or it might not.
“There’s so much legwork to every one of these ideas, and we definitely can’t do them all, but if we didn’t have those meetings with the public we would just have been throwing things at the wall, so it’s much better to have had that consultation.”
He adds that even if BC Housing does not partner with the village, at least they now know what people want to see there.
“Whatever they do with the site should be in line with this. We might have great ideas, but even if they decide not to go with us, we hope they like those ideas.”