The design for a proposed affordable housing complex on the Southside has been revised to include six additional units in preparation for a grant application to the provincial government’s BC Housing agency.
The Ksan House Society and its project consultant, the M’akola Group from Victoria, first approached Terrace city council in March with a request for various kinds of support in building a 39-room complex on city-owned land on the 4600 Block of Haugland, and at that time council asked if there was a way to expand the proposal to maximize project.
The expanded design by architect Dan Condon came back to council at its April 11 meeting and his redesign now includes 45 units, with the six extra having been included at the rear of the building.
Council also worked on the final wording for a letter of support to Ksan to be included in its grant application for the project which would cost in excess of $13 million. Ksan and M’akola have indicated that at least $10 million would be needed from BC Housing.
A first draft of the letter mentions a low-cost lease for the city-owned land, which it has done in the past for other housing projects, and of the project being eligible to apply for a contribution from the city’s $500,000 affordable housing fund.
As it stands, Ksan and M’akila are asking for $200,000 from the housing fund for city permitting-related costs, as well as free lease of the land and property tax exemption.
The revised letter now provided to Ksan-M’akola indicates support and the intent to work toward a long-term lease, but there is no mention if that lease would be low cost or eligible for money from the housing fund.
“We intend to work with Ksan Society towards a long-term lease of the property for a mixed-income housing development. We look forward to the possibility of working with Ksan Society and M’akola Development Services on this 45-unit housing project,” states the letter.
Mayor Carol Leclerc said the revised letter should not be considered as one of diminished support for the project.
“We are not rethinking. It’s with our staff. We are waiting for our staff to review and give us our best information they can,” she said.
Councillor Stacey Tyers, who works in the poverty-reduction field, said she worries about supporting a project that doesn’t price units based on a percentage of income earned.
The proposal now calls for all units to be rented at about 30 per cent below market value, with the current figures being $700 for a one-bedroom, $800 for a two-bedroom and $1,000 for three-bedroom apartments, rates which Tyers says remain out of reach for those who are struggling financially.
“It was interesting listening to Stacey,” said the mayor. “She did talk about income-geared housing rather than affordable housing.”
The Ksan House Society would own the three-storey complex which would be built on the lots of 4616-4622 Haugland, close to its Hall St. short term housing and emergency shelter building.
The provincial government through BC Housing has committed itself to spending $355 million over the next five years on affordable housing and the federal government has said it will also increase its affordable housing spending.
The initial Haugland presentation to council indicated Ksan has an affordable housing wait list of 246 people.