The construction of JoeAnna’s House in Kelowna, a 20-room housing facility for relatives of out-of-town patients requiring care at Kelowna General Hospital, is expected to break ground this fall.
The $8 million fundraising campaign orchestrated by the KGH Foundation in partnership with Prestige Hotels & Resorts has so far raised $7 million.
Doug Rankmore, executive director of the KGH Foundation, said support both in Kelowna and across the southern B.C. region has been “incredibly generous” so far, raising enough so far to kick-start the construction phase.
“We’re not quite there yet,” said Rankmore of meeting the fundraising target, which will also enable a funding base towards operation of the facility in perpetuity.
“We have some verbal commitments for support that haven’t come forward yet, some pledge commitments go out over a number of years. We hope to complete the fundraising phase soon. “
Rankmore noted the support both of Prestige—which has committed $1 million to the campaign while JoeAnna’s House bears the name of the hotel founders Joe and Anna Huber—and Jim Pattison Broadcast Group radio stations that have done on-air fundraisers in support of the project.
Kelowna city council has also approved the design concept for JoeAnna’s House, which will be located on the northwest corner of the KGH site which is currently a parking lot at the intersection of Abbott Street and Royal Avenue.
The two storey building will include 20 units along with common living room and kitchen facilities and an area for outdoor amenities along the Abbott Street side.
City planner Terry Barton told council the building design attempts to retain the heritage character of the neighbourhood while being situated on one side by a large hospital and the other by an older, long-established subdivision.
Several councillors noted they preferred the original design presentation compared to the followup on modified with changes requested by the planning staff.
“I’m not interested in delaying this project but I actually liked the original design better, but this one looks good to,” said Coun. Gail Given, reflecting similar sentiments expressed by Couns. Charlie Hodge, Ryan Donn and Brad Sieben.
Rankmore said support for the JoeAnna’s House campaign reflects an understanding of the situation people find themselves in facing perhaps “among the darkest times in their lives.”
“If you are coming to KGH from out of town, an unexpected trip for many, and you arrive here in the middle of night, having had the worst call of your life from RCMP or ambulance people, that your loved one is in need of medical care. So as a parent, you arrive here but where do you go, where can you stay?”
Rankmore said the support from the Kelowna community is particularly noteworthy, given it is to support a facility for people coming here from outside the city.
“We’ve seen such a positive response, it’s just amazing,” Rankmore said.