Wednesday, July 17, 2019

B.C. injects funds into affordable housing project for Salt Spring Island

Low- and moderate-income families affected by the housing crunch on Salt Spring Island can look forward to a new affordable housing development, thanks to a $2.4-million provincial investment.

Salt Spring Island Community Services will use the money from the province’s community housing fund to build Salt Spring Commons at 176 Bishops Walk Rd., with 24 new rental homes in a mix of two- and three-bedroom units.

Monthly rental rates are projected to range from $570 for two-bedroom units to $1,475 for three-bedroom units. Construction is expected to start this fall.

Rob Grant, executive director of the society, said the island’s lack of affordable housing has made it difficult for local businesses and organizations to retain staff.

“We’ve had staff that have had to leave because they can’t find housing. Businesses have shortened their hours because they can’t find staff,” he said.

“It’s not just that people are leaving. We can’t attract people to the island.”

The development is within walking distance of the town centre of Ganges, which has a grocery store, parks, community services and a downtown harbour.

Grant said the island does not have a good range of housing, particularly for low-income families. The new development is the first major project to provide affordable housing for families in about a decade, Grant said. The society built Murakami Gardens, a 27-unit apartment complex for individuals and families, about 11 years ago. Other projects have focused on providing affordable units for seniors. Grant hopes the project will provide stability for families.

The units will be built on a two-hectare parcel of land, valued at $720,000, donated by the society. The society is also contributing $500,000 and secured $1 million in private donations.

The project is part of more than 20,000 new homes already built or underway across B.C. because of provincial government investments, including more than 5,000 homes in mixed-income buildings for people with low, moderate and middle incomes.

Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said the province is working with partners to bring more affordable housing to Salt Spring and across the province to help people “stay in the communities they choose to call home.”

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