The University of Victoria has made an agreement for the conditional sale of Dunsmuir Lodge and 25 acres of surrounding woodland to Homewood Health of Guelph, ON. Homewood Health is a Canadian company that is a leader in providing mental health and addiction treatment services with clinics and offices across Canada.
The 100-acre Dunsmuir property, situated on the slopes of Mount Newton in North Saanich and adjacent to John Dean Provincial Park, includes a 75-acre tract of woodland that is not included in the agreement with Homewood Health. UVic is in continuing discussions with the Pauquachin First Nation regarding this land.
“We believe that Homewood shares our values of integrity, wellness and dignity of all persons, respect for cultural diversity and creating opportunities for society’s benefit,” says Gayle Gorrill, UVic Vice-President of Finance and Operations. “We believe that Homewood will be a good steward of Dunsmuir Lodge and we are pleased that there continues to be an opportunity for First Nations to acquire the majority of the land.”
“The Pauquachin First Nation has a continuing interest in the Dunsmuir lands and we have had positive discussions with the University of Victoria and Homewood Health,” says Pauquachin First Nation Chief Rebecca Harris. “We look forward to further consultation and discussion.”
Having Homewood Health located on the Saanich Peninsula will provide excellent opportunities to collaborate on research and educational opportunities, says David Castle, Vice-President of Research. “We at UVic are very much looking forward to exploring those opportunities to improve lives through research, learning and services.”
Built in 1974 as a treatment centre for people with alcohol and drug addictions, the Dunsmuir property was donated to UVic in 1985 by the late George Poole and operated as an educational conference centre until its closure in 2009.
Homewood intends to use this facility to provide its nationally recognized, medically-based treatment services for mental health, addiction and concurrent disorders. These private pay programs would be supported by employers, insurers and individuals and those participating would do so voluntarily to accelerate their recovery and return to life and work.
“I am pleased that we have been able to work closely with the University of Victoria towards our goal of establishing our Vancouver Island treatment centre on the Dunsmuir property,” says Jagoda Pike, president and CEO of Homewood Health. “Homewood’s Western Canadian residential services will provide immediate access to the best mental health and addiction treatment in the country.”
The agreement with Homewood remains true to the intent behind the original donation to support the educational mission of UVic, says Gorrill.
The sale agreement is subject to a number of conditions. These include municipal approvals for rezoning and approval by the Ministry of Advanced Education. The university and Homewood will hold community information sessions this spring about plans for the Dunsmuir property. The university and Homewood will also continue to engage in consultation with First Nations on the Saanich Peninsula.
The purchase price will be confirmed when the agreement is finalized. D.R. Coell and Associates, an independent real estate valuation and consulting company, appraised the value of the lodge and 25 surrounding acres in December 2015 for $7.6 million. Proceeds from the sale of Dunsmuir will go towards the capital costs of UVic’s new Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA), a key priority of the university as a hub for sports excellence, physical activity, healthy living and wellness for campus and community members.