Berwick pulls plug on $52-million retirement complex in Parksville

A $52-million dollar retirement development has been cancelled in Parksville in the wake of a new housing complex for the homeless there.

The sign at a cleared lot in Parksville still reads “Berwick is coming to Parksville,” but the project is no more since supportive housing for the homeless broke ground just a block away.

“What we need is a sign saying Berwick is not coming to Parksville,” said Parksville resident John Bishop.

“We wanted Berwick so badly to be here in Parksville. It was going to provide a whole bunch of jobs.”

Seventy-nine-year-old Bishop said he had hoped to move into the Berwick Retirement Communities complex that promised 150 jobs, 188 units for seniors and tax revenue for Parksville.

Yet the company has just pulled the plug on its $52-million dollar project, citing safety concerns from the new provincially funded housing for the homeless that is going up nearby.

“And we all know what has taken place in Maple Ridge, in Nanaimo, in the city of Victoria,” said Berwick founder Gordon Denford.

“And there is definitely something that is not compatible with what we’re trying to create, which is a safe environment for seniors.”

Parksville’s Mayor Ed Mayne said the cancellation is sad news for his city.

“We are disappointed,” said Mayne.

“We are majorly disappointed that Berwick has made the decision not to come to Parksville.”

Parksville resident Vivian Lambert said the pullout shouldn’t be blamed on helping people in need though.

“Too may people just equate homeless with drugs and that’s it,” said Lambert.

“And yet we know there’s people that lost their houses in a fire, you know, there’s all kinds of things,” she said.

The 51-unit supportive housing project opens in July.

Berwick says any plans it had to open a retirement facility in Parksville have now passed by.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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