Demolition of numerous BC Housing townhouses on Kootenay Ave. has almost been completed for the Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society to start construction on much-needed new residential units for city residents.
Clifford White, president of Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society (PRIHS) told The Northern View while there was a recent reduction in the number of units to be built, the project is a phased one and the units can be moved to a later juncture.
“We are doing this in phases because of funding challenges that we have,” White said.
The PRHIS is working in partnership with BC Housing and will be building a mix of residential units from one-bedroom apartments to three and four-bedroom townhouses on the site.
The affordable housing project will have no subsidies White said, and those displaced by the demolition will have first right of refusal on the new units once they are completed.
“BC Housing has already gone through the process of relocating individuals. So that process in and of itself took about a year to do. That’s quite a process in terms of just kind of moving things along here,” he said.
The project has already drawn some negative attention, with Prince Rupert City Council discussing the reduction of units at a February meeting where councillors voiced their concerns and disappointment over the lower number of units.
However prior to this, Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society reached out for community feedback as they wanted to be in line with the needs and direction the community wanted to go, White said.
Originally planned was a six-story apartment building to be surrounded by multiple family units, however having a building that high was part of the problem for locals. So, PRIHS reduced the number of floors omitting some units. The units that were reduced were single units and not family-sized units, White said.
“The last thing we wanted to do was fight the community … we do need the units,” White said. “We want a good neighbourhood. A good neighbourhood feel for all the people who are living in the area.”
“There was definitely was a reduction on our part, prior to the city review. We didn’t want the city nor the community to be upset with what we’re doing.”
The townhome buildings were torn down, instead of being renovated, due to issues that the public or residents cannot see, White said. Pipes and water lines need to be replaced and the infrastructure is being exchanged within the bounds of the construction.
White said the current density allows for more units and they will get them but in later phases of the project.
“Within the footprint of the overall scheme of things, we will still get our 60 units in there,” White said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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