Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Province to help build 588 affordable homes in Victoria

The B.C. government will spend nearly $65 million to help build 588 affordable rental homes in Victoria over the next two to three years, Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday.

The money will go to five city projects that are among the first wave approved under the province’s $1.9-billion community housing fund.
A total of 72 projects across the province will receive $492 million to build 4,900 homes for seniors, families and low- and middle-income earners.

Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands will receive money for 20 projects and 1,274 homes.
“We start today in 42 communities right around British Columbia building homes for people, making sure that British Columbians have a place that they can call home,” Horgan said.

The five projects in Victoria:
• $19 million for Pacifica Housing to build 130 units as part of the planned new fire hall on Johnson Street between Cook and Vancouver streets.
• $15.5 million for the Capital Region Housing Corporation to provide 155 homes by assembling parcels of land and redeveloping the Caledonia site on Gladstone Avenue near Victoria High School.
• $8.8 million for Pacific Housing to build an 88-unit development on the grounds of the former Burnside Elementary School.
• $15.7 million for the Victoria Cool Aid Society to provide homes for 157 families and seniors by redeveloping the Tally Ho hotel property at 3020 Douglas St.
• $5.8 million for the Gorge View Society to build 58 homes for families and seniors.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the city is “deeply, deeply grateful” for the investment. “This is a huge priority for our residents, for our citizens, for our business community.”
She said the city is directly involved in the Burnside, Caledonia and fire hall projects “particularly with regard to land.” She credited the Greater Victoria School District for its partnership role in the Burnside and Caledonia projects.
“What we’re seeing today is when there’s collaboration at the local level, provincial funding will follow,” she said. “I think that’s the strong message, so we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Helps said all the projects are in the early stages, but she expects them to move quickly. “They’ll go through the normal regulatory processes,” she said. “Having said that, clearly affordable housing is a big priority for our whole community and I don’t anticipate too many problems.”
Kathy Stinson, Cool Aid’s chief executive officer, said the society has been working with its architects on the Tally Ho development for a number of months.
“We’ve done considerable community engagement around this project,” she said. “So we hope to get our redevelopment, re-zoning application in within the next few weeks and then it will likely be late winter, early spring before it gets into a public hearing.”
In addition to its two projects in Victoria, Pacifica Housing will get a further $8 million for the second phase of its Oak Park development on Goldstream Avenue in Langford, adding 80 units to the 73 already there.
“We’re really, really excited for Pacifica, for local low-income families, for seniors, for people with disabilities,” said Dean Fortin, executive director. “What a great opportunity to make a significant difference.
“There’s been a lot of talk about affordable housing being the top priority. This is really feet on the ground, dollars in the bank, building the housing.”
Other projects in the capital region include:
• $13.7 million to the Greater Victoria Housing Society for 137 homes in Esquimalt.
• $2.4 million to the Rogers Court Society for 24 homes in Esquimalt.
• $8.5 million to Dawson Heights Housing Ltd. for 85 homes for seniors in Saanich.

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