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President's Report - June 2023

In May 2022 the board adopted a strategic plan designed to address our mandate, that is “to provide one or more not-for-profit affordable residential facilities for low and moderate income seniors on Salt Spring Island, B.C., overseen by a governing board.” We also set broad goals and objectives to achieve that purpose.

During the past year we have begun implementing our plan, first by transforming ourselves into a governing board. Historically, the Board that built Meadowbrook was, by its very nature, a working board that did most of the work required to envision, finance, and implement every aspect of completing the building and setting up its operations. Over a span of twenty years, the board and staff worked together to build a strong legacy of seniors’ housing on Salt Spring Island that offers a strong model of independent living in a safe and secure community setting.

Now, we are a governing board, and I am pleased to report that we have engaged a management team whose job descriptions require the ability not only to successfully complete the day-to-day operations of Meadowbrook but who also can propose and oversee the design, construction, and financing of a second residence, for some time now dubbed “Meadowlane.” On behalf of the entire board, I can convey our continued pleasure with the entire GISRA staff, each one of whom does an excellent job, each in his or her own way. We are particularly impressed with Harry Barnes, our Executive Director, who brings to the table a strong background in building design and operations, who is exceptionally capable at multi-tasking, and whose warm and friendly personality has endeared him to the staff and residents as well as to the Board. Christina Antonick serves as the GISRA Board Assistant and is also taking on key aspects of administering Meadowbrook operations. She is efficient, has foresight, and has an acute sense of the needs of each resident. Keena Hicken-Gaberria, is a CFO who not only oversees and reports on our finances clearly and efficiently, but who also has considerable experience working with not-for-profit societies. Last year, she led us through our strategic planning process, and this year she worked with Harry and me to update and revise our by-laws.

The GISRA Board brings a breadth and depth of experience to the table in business, planning, program evaluation, and governance. I trust that our combined wisdom and experience will enable us to envision and to move forward with the best model possible for a second Seniors’ residence for Salt Spring Island. We are all aware that the COVID pandemic caused serious supply-chain issues across Canada but also, with respect to constructing Meadowlane, it resulted in building companies being unable to provide us with viable cost estimates.

Perhaps the delay in moving forward was a good thing because we have since learned of significant changes in the wants and needs of our clientele, particularly in the past year. Specifically, potential residents at Meadowbrook are telling us that they are not “ready” yet. A seminar held this spring by Eng(age) B.C., the operating arm of the BC Care Providers Association, provided insight into the probable reason for this response. Surveys show that 98 percent of BC residents over 65 are choosing to remain in their own homes, at least “until something happens.” When we apply that percentage to Salt Spring Island, we realize that Meadowbrook may be sufficient to meet the needs of those seniors who desire “services and amenities that provide an affordable, safe, comfortable and secure home for seniors in a community setting” and who do not need assistance in caring for themselves.

Statistics Canada reports that, in 2023, residents in Southern Vancouver Island region aged 65 can expect to live an average of 22 more years. But living well into one’s eighties or nineties does not necessarily mean that one can continue living that long independently. We can expect an increasing number of seniors who opt to stay in their own homes until something happens will then require “assisted living.” And some of them will eventually need “memory care.” Given this understanding, we need to consider whether a model based on a continuum of care might be a better choice for Meadowlane than sticking to one based strictly on independent living.

This year, we will be meeting with experts who can guide us in doing the appropriate feasibility studies and asking the right questions. Thereafter, we will be holding consultations with the community to assess their needs and desires. We will also explore ways to ensure that enough of our potential residents will move in once the building is complete to make it financially viable to undertake construction.

Finally, I take great pleasure in announcing that 2023 is Meadowbrook’s twentieth birthday! On behalf of the Board, the Staff, and our Residents, I invite you to join us on Saturday, September 9 to celebrate!


Helen Hinchliff


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