Many individuals attending a Thursday evening information session at Collingwood Neighbourhood House appeared to support plans to turn the Ramada Inn at 3484 Kingsway into non-market housing, but raised concerns about the future of Jaguar’s Pub & Restaurant on the property.
The city bought the Ramada Inn late last year for $15.5 million. The 86 tenants in the Old Continental residence at 1390 Granville St. on the north end of the Granville Street Bridge, are getting priority placement in the 123 units. The Old Continental is being demolished. Most of its tenants are men older than 45, primarily on welfare or receiving a pension. Many are living with mental health or addiction issues or other medical conditions, according to a city information sheet provided at the Jan. 10 session.
B.C. Housing will refer individuals from its properties that are being renovated to fill the remaining rooms at the Ramada, which is being renamed the Kingsway Continental. Collingwood residents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness will also be considered as tenants.
Steve Moore, who’s lived in Collingwood for eight years, said it’s a good neighbourhood for the city’s plans.
“We have the right kind of amenities to make sure this kind of thing works well,” he told the Courier. “It’s mostly my concern that they shut down the Jaguar Pub — that’s a place that’s historically had clientele with bad behaviour. There’s always been a lot of late-night activity in that area. It’s not unusual to find people having public sex or the drug trade or broken bottles and that sort of stuff. So if the city puts something in that space, they should absolutely not have a pub that serves alcohol until 2 a.m. It seems that’s the opposite of what they’d want in that space.”
The Jaguar closed at the end of October and the city is looking for a new tenant, which could include a pub or restaurant, to take over the space.
Moore hopes they turn it into a cooking school or do something with the food security institute, which is run out of Collingwood Neighbourhood House.
Joanne Moses also said a restaurant would be OK, but not a pub.
“Having a pub would not be wise. It was great to get rid of the pub,” she said. “I don’t think it would be helpful to those clients...I think something like a Tim Hortons or a really good restaurant with healthy food at reasonable prices would be good for them.”
Mike Gillis agreed. “If the folks that are going to be moving in have addiction issues, probably a pub is not good,” he said. “Let’s hope logic prevails.”
Chanel Ly echoed their comments. The 20-year-old said she supports social housing projects, but wants to know more about plans for the restaurant/pub space.
“Hopefully that can be used more for the community — a place for the tenants and general community members to hang out and use as a social space,” she said. “I don’t want to encourage a space to use alcohol, especially for the tenants.”
Jennifer Standeven, the city’s assistant director of business operations, said the next step is to take the comments from the open house back to the city. “Then at that point we’ll see where we go from here,” she said. “We’re not at that point [of deciding yet] so I don’t know what the next steps will be, but what I’m saying is the point of tonight is to get people’s comments and we’ve certainly heard their comments and we’re going to take them back to the city and see where we want to go from there.”
The Kingsway Continental has about 40 one-bedroom units. The rest are studios of varying sizes. All have a washroom and are being updated to include a fridge and microwave. Tenants in the Old Continental share washrooms and cooking facilities.
Rent will range between $375 a month up to about 750, depending on the size of the unit and the tenants’ financial means.
Tenants will be able to access the same health services or mobile support in the Kingsway Continental that were available to them at the Old Continental, such as home care and Meals on Wheels.
The Kingsway Continental will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a resident manager and staff.
The resident manager will help individuals connect with support available in the community.
Renovations will begin in February and will be completed by summer.