Con­vert­ing man­sion to se­niors home will cost jobs, Radler says

The Province - - NEWS - SCOTT BROWN Sbrown@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/Brown­i­escott — With files from Ch­eryl Chan and David Baines

Van­cou­ver news­pa­per ex­ec­u­tive David Radler op­poses a bid to con­vert a his­toric South­west Marine Drive man­sion into a se­niors care fa­cil­ity.

The Care Group, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Van­cou­ver Coastal Health Au­thor­ity, has ap­plied to the city for a re­zon­ing amend­ment to trans­form the Casa Mia man­sion at 1920 South­west Marine Dr. into a 90-bed Com­mu­nity Care Fa­cil­ity for se­niors.

The 20,700-square-foot, Span­ish-Colo­nial-style man­sion was built in 1932 for liquor mag­nate Ge­orge Reifel.

The re­zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tion, which goes to pub­lic hear­ing on Tues­day, in­cludes her­itage preser­va­tion and re­use of the ex­ist­ing Casa Mia man­sion, along with the con­struc­tion of a two-storey ad­di­tion with a base­ment and un­der­ground park­ing.

In a let­ter of op­po­si­tion, Radler, who op­er­ates the Alta News­pa­per Group and Con­ti­nen­tal News­pa­pers out of a Van­cou­ver of­fice, cau­tioned coun­cil by stat­ing that putting a com­mer­cially run, “old-age home” in the exclusive west side neigh­bour­hood would ul­ti­mately cost the city jobs.

“You will be al­low­ing one of the last up­per­scale res­i­den­tial ar­eas of the city close to the air­port to be com­mer­cial­ized,” Radler wrote.

The 1.5-kilo­me­tre stretch of South­west Marine Drive be­tween An­gus Drive and West 54th Av­enue is marked by some of the largest, sin­gle-fam­ily lots in the city, in­clud­ing a dozen grand homes built in the 1920s and ’30s, sev­eral of which are on the city’s her­itage reg­istry. Radler owns a home in the neigh­bour­hood. “The city has suf­fered losses in head of­fices, of­ten for rea­sons not un­der their con­trol, but if you elim­i­nate an­other po­ten­tial area of ex­ec­u­tive hous­ing, the city will pay the price in at­tract­ing a level of ex­ec­u­tive and cor­po­rate lead­er­ship that ac­tu­ally pro­vides jobs and not just fills them,” wrote Radler.

His let­ter, marked “priv­i­leged and con­fi­den­tial,” is one of two op­pos­ing the re­zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tion posted on the City of Van­cou­ver’s web­site. There are 11 posted in sup­port of the plan. “We are look­ing for se­nior’s liv­ing care for my fa­ther-in-law, and it’s very dif­fi­cult. More hous­ing would be a won­der­ful thing for the Van­cou­ver area,” James Berg wrote in favour of the ap­pli­ca­tion.

“My wife, now de­ceased, lived with Alzheimer’s dis­ease for many years, so I am acutely aware of the need for more of these fa­cil­i­ties,” wrote Peter Speer in an­other let­ter.

A pub­lic hear­ing on the re­zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tion will take place Tues­day at 6 p.m. at city hall.

Radler is a for­mer pub­lisher of The Van­cou­ver Sun and The Prov­ince. In 2005 he signed a plea agree­ment, filed in U.S. Fed­eral Court in Chicago, ad­mit­ting he de­frauded share­hold­ers of Hollinger In­ter­na­tional Inc., which owned and op­er­ated news­pa­pers around the world. He was sen­tenced to 29 months in prison and fined US$250,000.

— GETTY IMAGES FILES

David Radler, shown in a 2007 file photo, is op­posed to a bid to con­vert a man­sion into a se­niors care fa­cil­ity, say­ing putting ‘an old age home’ in the area will al­low an up­per scale res­i­den­tial area to be com­mer­cial­ized.

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