A drawing of what the proposed Ksan affordable housing project would look like when completed.

Affordable housing grant gets approved by council

Terrace city council has taken a step to increasing affordable housing by giving Ksan House Society grant money and rezoning its property

TERRACE city council has taken a significant step to increasing affordable housing here by agreeing unanimously to both provide $250,000 from its affordable housing fund and to rezone southside property it owns to advance a plan by the Ksan House Society to build a three-storey apartment building.

Both decisions were made by council at its May 24 meeting following a public hearing on rezoning the property at 4622 Haugland from low density multiple-family residential to medium density multiple-family residential in line with Ksan’s earlier-released plan to provide 45 units there.

The society, however, needs to raise at least $10 million for the project which is estimated to cost more than $13 million and is asking the provincial government’s B.C. Housing agency for the money.

The city’s money will be used to defray various municipal permitting fees, building and development permits and pay for connections to municipal services such as sewer and water. Council has also given its administrators the go-ahead to negotiate a long-term lease with Ksan for the property.

The 45 unit complex will consist of 15 one-bedroom units, 24 two-bedroom units and six three-bedroom units for disabled people and “core” people – those who have extreme difficulties accessing affordable suitable housing in the region, Kelly Sims from M’akola Development Services, which prepared Ksan’s application to the city, told council.

That means the rentals would focus on people whose income is below Terrace’s median housing income, she said.

The building would have laundry rooms on each floor, parking for vehicles and bikes, and be close to the Greyhound station, health services, shopping, pharmacy, and daycare among other services, said Sims.

Residents living adjacent to the Haugland property who attended a Ksan open house held May 14 to discuss the proposal raised two concerns, parking and worries of “ghettoization” of the neighbourhood, said Sims.

Both issues also arose during the public hearing on the rezoning application which was held just before the May 24 council meeting.

Marie Piffer, who has lived on Hall St. close to the Haugland property for 61 years, said the area already has a high density because of another affordable housing complex just to the east of the property which is also managed by Ksan.

That complex contains 50 units and residents there are subsidized by B.C. Housing so that they pay no more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.

As well, Ksan has a complex on Hall St. called Ksan Place, the same block where Piffer lives, containing short-term housing, a homeless shelter and space for other programs.

A three-storey building would be a very unsightly addition to the landscape,” said Piffer. “It would reduce the value of residents’ homes considerably.”

Another neighbour who also lives on the same block of Hall as Piffer, cited several problems.

I’ve been having a lot of problems with traffic, it’s unbelievable,” he said.

In winter, the city machines clean the snow on the other side of the street from his house but not his side because of the cars parked along the street, leaving him to dig out his own car, which is not fair because he pays taxes to have it cleaned for him, he said.

Garbage is strewn everywhere and he said he has to clean it up himself every morning.

When people are going to Ksan for dinner or an event, it should be Ksan’s responsibility for parking so people don’t park on the street, he said.

While councillor Stacey Tyers voted for both the rezoning and the $250,000 grant for Ksan, she drew a distinction between affordable housing and low income housing.

The Ksan proposal is for affordable housing so that rents are established to be 30 per cent below market value which, for a one-bedroom apartment as an example, would be $700 a month.

It will not be addressing problems in the community because no one on welfare will actually be able to live there or anybody on disability,” said Tyers.

Disability payments provide just $906 per month so they can’t afford to pay $700 a month on rent, she added.

The word affordable refers to being below market value but it’s not necessarily affordable, so in effect, there’s a subsidy for middle income earners, Tyers said.

I struggle with that and it’s half the fund and once it’s gone, it’s not coming back and it really leaves the most vulnerable people still in the most vulnerable situations,” said Tyers of the $250,000 to be provided through the city’s affordable housing fund.

That fund of $500,000 was created with some of the proceeds of the sale of another city-owned property on Park Ave. in the horseshoe area.

The purchaser, a Calgary developer, also agreed to provide a number of units of affordable housing within a housing complex it planned of more than 100 units.

Construction there has yet to start.