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New affordable housing suites ready by spring in Qualicum Beach

Diana LaMonte is a former tenant of the Kiwanis Village and future tenant of Qualicum Park Village. She spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Friday, along with local MLA Michelle Stilwell, VP of Kiwanis Housing Society Renate Sutherland, Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek, Qualicum Beach Coun. Dave Willie and president of Kiwanis, Pat Weber.  - LISSA ALEXANDER PHOTO
Diana LaMonte is a former tenant of the Kiwanis Village and future tenant of Qualicum Park Village. She spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Friday, along with local MLA Michelle Stilwell, VP of Kiwanis Housing Society Renate Sutherland, Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek, Qualicum Beach Coun. Dave Willie and president of Kiwanis, Pat Weber.
— image credit: LISSA ALEXANDER PHOTO

Faced with unforeseen health challenges, local practical nurse Diana LaMonte found herself homeless three years ago.

Fortunately, there was space available to her at the Kiwanis Village affordable housing complex, run by the Qualicum-Parksville Kiwanis Housing Society. If she had to pay market rent in the area, she would have to choose between paying bills, paying rent or buying food, she said.

LaMonte, who has severe osteoarthritis and a neurological disorder, shared her story at the groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the new Qualicum Park Village, formerly Kiwanis Village.

The celebration marked the start of construction for the affordable housing project that will see 34 apartments replace the aging 20-units that were at the site. Twenty-four of the units will be one-bedroom and 10 will be two-bedroom apartments.

The new development is meant to provide options for seniors and families with low to moderate incomes in the area. The previous housing complex was seniors-only. The town of Qualicum Beach supported the project by waiving the development cost charges and contributing $168,000.

The B.C. government arranged for over $3.6 million in construction financing and MLA Michelle Stilwell was on hand to address the crowd, while the Regional District of Nanaimo waived $62,000 in development fees.

President of the Parksville-Qualicum Beach Kiwanis Housing Society Pat Weber thanked the community and government partners for helping the project get underway. The society itself provided $268,000 for the project and the land.

Emcee of the event, Renate Sutherland, who is vice president of Kiwanis, relayed how important it is to support affordable housing projects in the community, because no one knows when they might need it, for themselves or a family member. LaMonte has been relocated, along with other tenants, during construction but will move back into her new suite once construction is complete in Spring 2015.

"I am grateful beyond words to Kiwanis Housing Society, I shudder to think where I'd be in my condition without them," she said.

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