Berwick Retirement Communities Ltd

Building a reward

Since going public in 1991, Berwick Retirement Communities Ltd. has become renowned in British Columbia as a builder of luxurious retirement communities.  By setting the bar and exceeding it, Berwick Residences are continuously winning awards for the exceptional design, amenities, staff and landscaping.
The Berwick Retirement Communities team has accumulated decades of combined experience. Gordon Denford is President and CEO and has been in the building industry since the 1960s, crafting a master’s appreciation for building and incorporating the larger community into his projects. This past April, Denford was awarded the Governors’ Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Chamber of Commerce in recognition for his many accomplishments in business and volunteer community development efforts.

Denford’s passion for and dedication to his buildings is apparent when he speaks on them. The Berwick team is patient with their vision and go the extra mile to ensure a premiere home for its residents, for whom Denford’s respect is evident. “They have to feel they are making a step up, that this [move] is a reward,” he says, “So it is a theme that we have and we are adhering to it religiously.”

Berwick residences

The Berwick House in Victoria, B.C., was the first Berwick retirement residence.  The company’s construction management team crafted the residence with independence, comfort, security and companionship in mind. To achieve this, the location and design of the building were of paramount importance.

“Berwick Retirement Communities is one of the few companies in Canada that selects the site and location of the building. We design the building to suit the site and the particular culture of the community that we are in,” says Denford. “At the same time, we have our own construction management company and the same team of architects that we have worked with for 25 years (Chow Low Hammond architects Inc.), so we have a tremendous amount of input into design at the scene. These are very high quality buildings, and that is apparent when you walk in.”

Berwick House was so well received, it was followed by Berwick on the Lake, set on the shores of Long Lake, Nanaimo; Berwick on the Park in Kamloops, where every vantage point is of sky, mountain and valley; and Comox, in the Comox Valley. Completed just last year, the latest jewel in the Berwick Crown is the Berwick Royal Oak, a major (235 units) residence located on four and a half acres nestled amongst the abundant gardens of Victoria’s Elk Lake Park.

The Royal Oak facility, full of amenities, has a full production theatre used by theatre troupes and local schools. This theatre has computerized lighting and audio as well as a 14-foot movie screen for showing movies. Denford and his team offer the theatre for use because “by connecting with young people and the schools, we are involving the community outside and inviting them in.”

When designating a site for Berwick Residential communities, there are a few important considerations, the first being location. “A breathtaking location is something that will create a wow factor when you walk in the building and creates a feeling that this is where you want to live.”

This “wow factor” was particularly achieved in Berwick on the Lake in Nanaimo, set on a lake complete with a big dock and gazebo on the lake. “The building is designed so that when you walk in the entrance you look straight up a two-story space up the lake,” says Denford. “We look for a site that is large enough that we can provide for residents an outdoor experience as well as indoor.” For instance, Berwick on the Park in Kamloops, which has received the Kamloops Daily News award from Best Retirement Facility five times, has paths around the entire building where residents can go for walks amongst gardens awarded by the Canadian Home Builders Association of British Columbia.

Also of vital importance is the design of the building. This dictates how comfortable the building will be, both inside and out. Once the building has been finished, the team goes to great lengths to fill them with the best staff who transform the residence into a home.

“We are very careful about how we staff. The important thing is they have to be compatible with differing older generations. There is a cultural difference from those who were born in the ‘dirty thirties’ or the 1920s or 1940s,” says Denford.

Award-winning construction

The list of awards given to Berwick Residential Communities could merit an article of their own. Suffice to say, the care put into these buildings manifests in appealing and comfortable environments that residents enjoy. “Once people have moved in and established this as their home, they should not be obliged to move in the event they require nursing care and that sort of thing,” says Denford. “We are also one of the few companies that has licensed care built into the building. In fact, each one of our residences has an infirmary and, to the extent that the facilities are equipped, we can do palliative care as well, for which we don’t charge. This becomes their home; they shouldn’t have to leave it.”

With awards of excellence given by British Columbia Seniors Living Association, the Victoria Real Estate Board, the Comox Chamber of Commerce and many others, Berwick Residential Communities are building exemplary buildings that residents are happy to call home.