TERRACE city council has given first and second readings to a bylaw which would clear the way to converting the Cedars Motel on Hwy16 into affordable housing.
The proposal by the provincial government’s BC Housing agency and the Terrace and District Community Services Society (TDCSS) requires a bylaw to amend the property’s zoning.
A public hearing will now be held regarding the proposal to refurbish the motel’s 23 units.
Speaking to city council last night, TDCSS executive director Michael McFetridge described the proposal as low income housing for those on limited budgets.
“When we say fixed income, what we’re thinking of is those on income assistance, people with disabilities on pensions who have very finite resources to have safe secure housing,” he said.
At least two or three of the units would be accessible to those with physical disabilities or other limitations, McFetridge added.
Adjacent property owners have already been contacted about the idea.
“For the most part the response was really positive. I was really quite pleased about that,” McFetridge said.
Each unit will have a kitchenette in addition to a sleeping area and bathroom.
In a background document presented to city council last night, McElhanney Consulting, hired by BC Housing to develop the project, appealed to the City of Terrace’s own research into the lack of affordable housing here.
“The City of Terrace’s official community plan contains strong policy statements related to housing diversity, accessibility and partnerships to create an affordable supply of housing,” the document read.
“The proposal to increase the availability of small affordable housing units is consistent with the city’s housing goals, objectives and policies outlined in the City of Terrace’s official community plan.”
The BC Housing proposal even suggests there’s a commercial benefit for removing a motel from the local rental accommodation market.
“It is very possible that the conversion of the Cedars Motel to residential use will in fact be a benefit to both the Sandman Inn and the Denny’s restaurant, as there will not be an adjacent competing motel and there will be full time residents in the neighbourhood who may support the restaurant,” states the proposal.
The city and local services agencies have for several years been exploring ways to increase the supply of affordable housing prompted in part by rising rental costs and low vacancies connected with the prospect of large scale industrial activity.
This is not the first proposal of its kind in the area as BC Housing also purchased a motel in Kitimat this spring.
The City Centre Motel in Kitimat has 24 units which will be renovated for low-income families and individuals.
A contractor is now being chosen with the goal of starting renovations this month.