The answer to social housing issues in Prince Rupert may just rest in the hands of project developers.
At the March 24 meeting of council, BC Housing senior project development officer Stephanie Allen outlined a program the organization has in place that turns to industry to create affordable housing for future generations in the community their project is located in.
“We share your concerns about housing, especially as it relates to the impact of the economic boom times that are coming from resource development in the north. It is happening from the northeast to the northwest and we are seeing the early indicators of this across the north,” she told council.
“We reach out to industry directly through our partners and ask them to consider developing housing opportunities in the course of them developing their projects. Mines and utilities and LNG all have different housing needs, they all have different build out time lines, but there are opportunities where they can partner. If they don’t need to create purposeful housing, they could also look at leasing from purpose-built housing … to look at using some of that housing and to turn it over to affordable housing stock.”
In some cases, industry creates legacy housing through donations to existing providers to create affordable housing. In the case of BC Hydro, BC Housing is working with them in preparation for potential construction of the Site C Dam to create purpose-built housing that will be donated back to the community as affordable housing.
While there are no proposals to partner with BC Housing to develop affordable rentals in Prince Rupert at the moment, Coun. Joy Thorkelson said housing that supports those facing life challenges is definitely a need.
“Supportive housing is something we need before the influx of a large number of construction workers and new people because these people will be forgotten about,” she said.
“We don’t need to increase problems in our community.”
Allen noted that the current housing stock also lends itself to new development.
“There are a number of units that are starting to reach the end of their lives and it is no longer viable for renovations. When that happens you need to look at redevelopment,” she said.
“The costs of redevelopment are significant and that takes partnerships.”