Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has said that “This project will bring much-needed relief for people who are struggling to find affordable housing in the community where they live or go to school,This project is just the beginning, and I look forward to announcing even more affordable housing throughout the basin as part of our government’s work to help people in British Columbia find a safe and affordable place to call home.”
The Province and the trust are working with the society to purchase and renovate an eight-unit motel, located at 1295 Juniper St., which will be converted into new affordable rental housing. In addition, land directly across from the motel has been purchased for future development of more affordable rental housing.
This is the first affordable rental housing project to be funded by the agreement announced last fall between the B.C. government and the trust, which includes a commitment of $14 million each over the next three years to create 225 new affordable rental housing units in the region.
“Affordability has been a serious concern for people living in the basin for far too long,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development and Minister Responsible for the Columbia Basin Trust. “I know these homes, and the many others still to be announced, will have a big impact for the people in this community.”
The B.C. government and the trust are investing a combined $220,000 in capital funding for the project. The Province is also providing interim financing of $297,000.
“Affordable rental housing, close to families and school, is a major step toward ensuring the area’s post-secondary students achieve the success they dream of,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “The housing created by this unique partnership with the Province, trust and society will help Valemount College students reach their full potential in classes, at home and in their community.”
The Valemount Learning Society initially recognized a need for this type of housing in the community, and is partnering with the Valemount Affordable Rentals Society to operate and manage the building and serve the tenants who will be living there.
“We’re excited to partner with the trust and the Province to increase the housing inventory for Valemount,” said Riette Kenkel, president, Valemount Affordable Rentals Society. “Our focus for phase one is student housing, and our long-term vision is to become the local resource for affordable housing in our community.”
Once rezoning and renovations are complete, people are expected to move into their units by June 2018. This will be just in time for any tenants who have signed up for summer courses at nearby Valemount College.
“We heard from basin residents that affordable housing was a priority, and now we can move forward on our commitment to increasing its availability in our communities,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust.
Further projects to be funded under the agreement between the Province and the trust will be approved in the coming months, and will address individual communities’ affordable rental housing needs.