The City of Prince Rupert wants its share of the pie promised by Justin Trudeau during the election.
Trudeau and his Liberal government campaigned on promises of infrastructure investment and an immediate borrowing and spending plan to get the country’s cities and towns in working order.
The City of Prince Rupert is making sure they’re not left out of the picture when those investment announcements start dropping.
“The City is going to be narrowing down what lots are available to do [an affordable housing] project on, and this committee, which consists of the City of Prince Rupert, the Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society, as well as Hecate Strait Employment Development Society and potentially the North Coast Transition Society, are working together to figure out what this project’s going to look like,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain at last Monday’s council meeting.
“We’ll get all the costs laid out and those types of things and then when we settle in on what we’re going to do and define the scope of the project and its location, then we would work on building those partnerships with the government and then helping with the subsidies and those types of things. We’re hoping that we’re going to be reaching out to the federal level now. There’s been a change at that level and [we’ll see] if we can get some more partnerships here and prepare for a potential growth period as well,” he added.
But it won’t be as easy as mailing in a request for funds.
As Mayor Brain outlined at the meeting, Prince Rupert is competing with other communities around B.C., namely exponentially growing ones, like Surrey.
“One of the biggest concerns that have been coming back [in the provincial and federal responses] are about population. For us, we’ll be competing against, for example, Surrey, which is growing by 50,000 people a year. Even a 5,000-person boom in our community still doesn’t necessarily hit the same radar as a 50,000-person growth. So that’s some of the challenges we have in terms of getting funding and getting the attention around our affordable housing situation,” said the mayor.
Baseline data like that received by the City from the Go Plan Survey and Housing Needs Questionnaire in the summer will be used as evidence of any population growth trends that will be presented to the various levels of government for any subsidy or housing investments.
Adding to the City’s support group on the committee will be the Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society, which has a contract with the B.C. government for a $50,000 contract housing project. The lot on which the project will be built is still under review, but the City and the society are optimistic that a timeline to get something built is expected “sometime in 2016”.
A sickness and absence at the society delayed the project in the fall by a couple months.
“Now we’re reconvening and going to follow a timeline of getting the project off the ground,” said Mayor Brain.
Housing Committee member Coun. Joy Thorkelson added that the $9,000 allocated for the month of November in community grants provided by BC Housing and the provincial government has already been used up as of Nov. 9.
“That $9,000 has already been used up, so anyone else who finds themselves in need of a grant for November will no longer be able to get [one], unless they start using up December’s money in November. That’s less money for December,” said Coun. Thorkelson.