V!VA Retirement Communities has a conditional agreement to purchase the Legion property on Lawson Rd. This photo is an artist’s rendering of V!VA Oakville, which is currently under construction and slated to open next year.

By Kathryn Stocks

The Legion property on Lawson Road has been conditionally purchased by V!VA Retirement Communities. V!VA is a Toronto-based, Canadian-owned and operated developer and manager of upscale retirement residences. The company has six locations operating in the GTHA and Ottawa area. Two more are under construction and two are in development.

“We put an emphasis on finding really great communities with close-knit neighbourhoods that have a population that would benefit from our services,” Danny Joseph said. He is V!VA’s Director of Marketing and Sales.

The company looks for locations that are connected to the broader community. Care and wellness are an important part, but V!VA is also interested in social engagement and interaction. “Where a building is located can play a big role in that,” he said.

About the Legion property, Danny said, “There are few locations in Toronto as lush and picturesque right near Lake Ontario.” He also mentioned our great schools and community centres. Something else that’s important in their planning is access to local shopping and  restaurants and available greenspace.

V!VA won’t be able to build on the forested National Heritage part of the property because it has a small watercourse and it’s protected by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Monica Dashwood, V!VA’s Director of Development, said they will incorporate it into their outside design.

Their typical buildings have four to six storeys and contain 130 to 150 suites, most for singles and 15 to 20 percent for couples. V!VA’s typical model provides one dedicated floor for assisted living, which is about 25 to 30 suites, and the remaining floors for independent living. Respite care and trial suites are also offered and V!VA will be exploring options for senior apartments and memory care.

From a development perspective, they have to decide what the market needs. “We put in as many units as we think will meet the demand in the area,” Monica said. They look at population trends and meet with community stakeholders.

When asked if V!VA was high end, Danny said, “ We do offer a great level of service and care and our amenities are first class.” Those amenities range from a heated saltwater pool and raised planter victory garden to a large-screen movie theatre and golf simulator.

It’s extremely early in the process right now and it’s going to take some time before anything happens on the site. The development process can take several years from planning to getting approvals on permits. Only then can they start building. “These days development can take as long as construction,” Monica said. Because of this slow process, Legion Branch 258 will be able to stay in their building for quite a while.