Home feature: First in Canada to reach WELL certification

Located steps from Kelowna General Hospital, the Collet Manor was designed to combine hospitality with health care.

The Collett Manor multi-use development in Kelowna has become Canada’s first WELL certified project.

Located steps away from Kelowna General Hospital, the Collet Manor project was designed with the aim of seamlessly combining hospitality with health care under one roof.

Collett Manor artistic rendering

“In our mission to integrate hospitality into health care, we discovered Delos, which pioneered the WELL Building Standard,” said Alana Marrington, the entrepreneur behind the Collett Manor project.

“They shared our philosophy, to introduce scientifically validated features to positively impact health, vitality and bring an overall sense of relaxation into the spaces we live, work and visit.”

The Delos WELL certification process sets building standard requirements in seven categories—air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind that are validated through on-site post-occupancy performance assessments.

Those standards are administered by the International WELL Building Institute based in New York City, and third-party certified by the Green Building Certification Institute, the same organization that provides certification for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Design).

Some of the Collett Manor project features that passed the WELL building standards included flexible wall systems that transform units from one- to two-bedrooms, warm board radiant heating, an innovative flooring material that deactivates bacteria and harmful substances, technologically advanced design that includes connectivity to each unit, including remote door locking/unlocking, landscaping that is completely edible and non-toxic, and luxury design elements such as antimicrobial Corian countertops and touchless faucets.

The accreditation for Marrington’s development marks a highpoint for a project that is the result of a decade of passionate research to create a unique commercial and residential space, one that offers a rental pool of units for families and medical professionals in need of close access to KGH while visiting the city.

“Collett Manor was founded on our experiences caring for family and friends as they moved through the medical system. We focused on providing a place to stay, short term, a home away from home,” Marrington explained.

“That’s why we designed a space that adapts to life. Homes are designed to encourage positive and healing energies, whether you are there for a short term or permanent residency. Commercial space also benefits from the same healthy details as the residential.”

Finding that right mix has presented some challenges for Marrington, beginning with the City of Kelowna. She had made several applications for zoning stipulations to allow the project to proceed, and got nowhere.

“I think the city really didn’t know what to do with us for the longest time,” said Marrington.

The sixth application saw Marrington get assistance from then consultant Andrew Bruce, the former assistant planning director for the city who is now head of Melcor’s local residential development planning. He saw how her vision made sense.

It evolved into an 88,000 square-foot living space on four levels with underground parking, the first floor and a half dedicated to commercial space with a particular focus on health products and services. The city approved new Health District zoning for the project to replace the previous Multiple Unit Residential zoning.

Some units would be retained by Marrington as part of the rental pool concept and the other units offered for sale.

She also met with local non profits to seek ways how these rental units could be beneficial to patients here seeking medical care—from cancer treatments to heart surgery and other chronic ailments.

“I think the timing was right for us to come forward with this proposal as everyone was beginning to realize what a huge entity an upgraded regional hospital was evolving into,” she said. “If you look at other major hospitals around North America, you see how any major medical hub like that has services and accommodations right across the street, a need we felt our project could help fill in Kelowna.”

The passion for this idea hits close to home for Marrington, dating back to when her parents, living in the Lower Mainland at the time, had to venture up north to help her mom’s brother after he suffered a stroke.

“We had to go up and help take care of him because he was a bachelor,” Marrington recalled. “While he remained in hospital, we felt that experience of trying to support a family member…hotel rooms are not the best, eating out all the time isn’t (very healthy) and the hospital parking tickets begin to add up. It’s very costly to be in that situation and not conducive to healing—either for the caregiver or the patient. It is stressful.”

As the years went on, Marrington’s mother passed away, and in the aftermath of that she and her father decided to embark on their unique development project, buying a block of properties which today are the foundation for Collett Manor.

“In six months we had purchased all five houses and we moved up here, my dad along with my husband, my son and I. From there we began to figure out and design a project. By 2005, GTA Architects had a design in place for the outside of the building which was inspired by the original Collett Manor pioneer house that still sits on the property,” she said.

“From there it was coming up with an interior design plan that we continually tried to make better…we wanted to make this into something where we could say we would be proud to live here.”

The search to achieve their design goals led Marrington on a worldwide odyssey looking at different products and suppliers, many which weren’t necessarily familiar to Canadian home building.

While KGH is not directly involved in Collett Manor, she said the Interior Health board, in particular chair Norm Embree, has always been positive about what she was trying to do with Collett Manor.

“I always remember Norm Embree saying that Interior Health is not in the business of offering (accommodation) for people to stay. Their focus is on providing medical care for the patient. But he said anything that helps alleviate the stress for doctors, nurses, caregivers and patients would make a lot of sense.”

As well, Marrington says there are more medical or support workers visiting KGH to work on a short-term contact, or participate in an instructional course or program, particularly with the UBC teaching hospital aspect now in place.

“We think there is a need to provide a rental pool to help accommodate people connected to the hospital,” she said.

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