Ceremonial ground was broken on June 22 for a 22-unit apartment-style housing development for women and children either leaving violence or under the threat of violence. The groundbreaking comes nearly four years after first being proposed and closing in on three years since the announcement it would be built.
At a cost of $13.9 million, the three-storey structure on the corner of Lazelle Ave. and Munroe St. will have a mixture of one, two and three bedroom units where women and children can live for up to 18 months to give them time to find more permanent accommodations.
Money for the project comes through the provincial BC Housing agency and the building will be managed by the Ksan House Society. The society will also provide counselling and other services to the building’s occupants as a complement to its existing transition house and other services located next door.
Coast Mountain College chair Nicole Halbauer, who acted as the master of ceremonies for the groundbreaking, noted that while Ksan already offers transition housing for women and children to meet immediate accommodation needs, the short-term lengths of stay often don’t give clients enough time to organize all that’s necessary to re-establish their lives.
Senior BC Housing official Amy Wong walked the crowd through the conversation she had with Ksan executive director Amanda Owens close to four years ago that provided the impetus for the project.
They were standing on the sidewalk in front of what will be the new building, she said.
“She said we needed a place for moms and children,” recalled Wong. “I said ‘why not here?’”
That conversation lead to several adjoining lots being purchased to provide enough land for development, construction money being secured and an architect coming up with a design. The City of Terrace then approved of a rezoning.
“This is just how long it took,” Owens said of the many steps needed to approve of the final project. Construction is expected to take up to 18 months.
The building will be called Ella’s Place, the same name as an old house on one of the lots that previously accommodated women and children. The old house was demolished to make room for the new building.
Lisa Schmidt, counselling and support services director for Ksan, said the old house was really insufficient as second stage housing.
Golden Globe Construction of Vancouver is the general contractor for the project. Subtrades include Acadia Mechanical of Terrace.
Rental rates are at 30 per cent of a resident’s income or the provincial shelter rate for those who are receiving income or disability assistance.