Provincial minister of transport and infrastructure Claire Trevena, who is also MP for the North Island riding, was at the opening of a new social housing project in Campbell River on Friday. Photo David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

‘A place to call home’: New housing project opens in Campbell River

Renovated motel to accommodate low- and moderate-income people in 39 units

A new 39-unit social housing facility opened in Campbell River on Friday amid a housing crisis marked by escalating rents and low vacancy.

Terry Rose, the building’s resident caretaker, said that people moving into the building are happy just to have a roof over their heads, as he showed the Mirror one of the humble units of the former seaside motel.

“Everyone’s quite happy to be here,” he said. “(It’s) the fact they have a place they can call their home.”

Sixteen people have already moved into the 39 units of the former Travelodge at 340 South Island Hwy., and the building is expected to be full by the end of January, said Kevin Albers, the CEO of M’akola Housing Society, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing primarily to Indigenous people.

Rent for each single-occupancy apartment is $500 per month, a price that’s well below the going rates in Campbell River. Hydro and water are included, but not Internet or telephone service, he said.

READ MORE: Former Campbell River hotel to be converted into low-income housing

READ MORE: Campbell River supportive living facility celebrates 25 years amid housing crunch

READ MORE: Neighbours’ fears about Campbell River Travelodge property alleviated

The Mirror viewed a modestly furnished studio apartment, which contained a double bed with a dresser and a television, and two bedside tables.

A kitchen counter was equipped with a mini-fridge, a hotplate and a microwave, and the small bathroom was newly renovated and included a full-sized bath.

The facility was previously expected to open in fall 2017, and Albers attributed the delay to problems including “the surprises that you uncover in a renovation” and finding contractors.

“In this marketplace – just a booming marketplace in residential construction – being able to find trades to actually do the work is very challenging,” he said, adding that similar problems have cropped up elsewhere in the province.

People apply for subsidized units through BC Housing, which evaluates need based on a number of criteria, including income. M’akola Housing Society then places people from that list into apartments as they become available, said Albers.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in a statement that elders from the Indigenous community and other seniors, along with people with physical disabilities, would be among those who benefit from the new facility.

The building is owned and operated by the M’akola Housing Society, and the province provided $6.5 million in capital funding for the project, according to the statement.

A committee of residents at the neighbouring Silversea condos initially raised objections when the housing project was announced last year, saying they had been left in the dark about plans and arguing that it would reduce their property values.

Following a meeting with officials behind the project, the committee said their concerns had been alleviated, and during speeches by dignitaries at the outdoor opening event on Friday, a Silversea resident waved to the assembled crowd from their window.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena – who is also the New Democrat MLA for the North Island – said the new facility was a much needed project, especially for Indigenous people.

“People are struggling to afford a place to live,” Trevena said. “It’s especially true for Indigenous people, who we know are more likely than the non-Indigenous to be living in unsafe or overcrowded homes.”

A report on regional housing needs released earlier this year by the Strathcona Community Health Network said that rent in Campbell River has increased by 42 per cent over the past decade. Meanwhile, the vacancy rate has plunged from seven per cent to 1.3 per cent.

The report notes that seniors are among the most vulnerable when it comes to housing, along with people on low incomes, First Nations people and those with mental health or addictions issues.


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Terry Rose, resident caretaker for a newly-opened housing project at 340 South Island Hwy., said residents are glad to have a place to live. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Potty Mouth artist creating Funky Fungus

Parksville-Qualicum’s Carmen Lutz has people chuckling with her hand-made, rustic mugs

Qualicum Beach charity hosts fundraiser for Guatemalan students

Aldea Maya has been working in the Central American country since 2012

Parksville Lawn Bowling Club on a roll for artificial turf

Project to cost over $500,000 but will save club money

More Parksville pop-up water parks planned

Fire department says Sunday, Aug. 18 next one on the agenda

Hi Neighbour Day celebrates 50th year in Errington

Pancake breakfast, parade, zucchini race and more planned for this years’ festivities

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read