Converting mansion to seniors home will cost jobs, Radler says
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.
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.