Five affordable housing projects have been approved for the North Coast region with a projected 86 new units to become available in the near future.
Premier Christy Clark revealed in an early announcement on Nov. 22 that housing projects have been approved in Prince Rupert, Lax Kw’alaams and Port Edward.
On Feb. 12, the province introduced the Provincial Investment in Affordability Housing Program promising $355-million to renovate and construct 2,000 units for affordable rental housing over a five-year period. In the first year, $50-million was up for grabs and societies on the North Coast were successful in gaining funding for their proposed projects.
In Prince Rupert, the Gitxaala Nation and Kitkatla First Nation were approved for a 30-unit rental housing targeted for low-income families. The second project approved is a 30 unit seniors’ centre for the Metlakatla First Nation. The locations for both housing projects have yet to be confirmed.
“The city has been working hard with the province to secure a commitment to affordable housing in Prince Rupert,” Mayor Lee Brain said. “We are thrilled to see 60 units confirmed for Prince Rupert and the area to provide seniors, singles and families a place they can call home. The city will continue to partner with First Nations and the province to ensure these projects are successful.”
Another seniors’ centre has been approved for Port Edward. Council told the provincial government at the Union of B.C. Municipalities late September that the district would provide land if they would build a seniors’ centre. A week later, officials visited the district to evaluate the proposed project beside the school and community hall.
Mayor Dave MacDonald said they applied for eight to 10 units. “We’re quite excited,” he said after learning that their seniors’ centre had been approved.
“Everything is a start and they said they would try to get us between that number and we were very happy to go with that but if they have more we’ll take it,” MacDonald said.
The actual number of units may change. Each project will be finalized on an individual basis and details may change, explained Laura Matthews, spokesperson for BC Housing.
Lax Kw’alaams First Nations Band will also see an estimated 18 units added to its community. A 10-unit affordable housing project will be built for families and an eight-unit seniors’ centre.
Premier Clark’s announcement last Tuesday in Surrey introduced the approval of 68 housing projects across the province with $516-million in provincial funding from both the Provincial Investment in Affordable Housing Program and the Investment in Housing Innovation, which was announced Sept. 19 for $500-million.
The commitment to move forward with these projects will also create an estimated 5,500 jobs.
“This is why we continue to work so hard to build Canada’s leading economy,” Premier Christy Clark said. “It gives us the ability to make significant investments, put British Columbians first, and take immediate action to increase the rental supply in communities throughout B.C.”
The addition of new affordable housing for seniors and low-income families is welcome in the region, however there will still be a need for more units. Societies will have another chance to apply for a piece of the $50-million in provincial funding through the Provincial Investment in Affordable Housing Program next year.