City debates affordable housing plan

The City of Prince Rupert's Housing Committee gave an update on its status at last week’s council meeting

The City of Prince Rupert Housing Committee gave an update on its status at last week’s council meeting and it included a bit of a field trip.

“The City is in the process of examining all their infill lots at the moment. I believe we have 208 infill lots that the city owns and we did a city bus tour earlier last week. We went lot to lot to see what potential uses those lots could have and part of that was examining how housing and affordable housing could work,” said Mayor Lee Brain.

“I think the next steps for us as a council are to meet with our community groups that we were working with earlier in the summer to reconvene and to see what projects would look like in the community and go from there,” said Brain

Coun. Joy Thorkelson added that it may be prudent to involve BC Housing and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in the discussions and hold community workshops with stakeholder groups on which direction affordable housing in Prince Rupert should go.

Coun. Barry Cunningham thought that BC Housing and CMHC won’t be entirely helpful in future discussions due to a lack of funds that are available from either organization to help with getting projects off the ground.

“I think we should forget about CMHC and BC Housing and concentrate more on the non-profit housing associations. Get some non-profit organizations, find out what property the city can either donate or lease for $1 and get this off the ground. We’ve been talking about this for eight months and [with] CMHC and BC Housing, every time we talk to them, we get promises and nothing else,” said Coun. Cunningham.

Coun. Thorkelson didn’t disagree, but said the traditional means of getting subsidized housing or non-profit organizations to help out are becoming extinct.

“It’s not what it used to be … We’re building [affordable housing] at a time when building is more difficult,” she said.