The first residents moved in early this year, but partners and residents gathered Friday to celebrate the official opening of affordable housing in Qualicum Beach.
Qualicum Park Village replaced the previous Kiwanis housing on the site beside the curling club and now provides 34 town homes for families and seniors.
“Being able to have affordable housing has allowed me to be able to stand back on my own two feet again,” resident Debbie Wesnedge told the couple dozen gathered Friday.
Wesnedge left a “bad situation” in Vancouver and moved back to her hometown with her four-year-old son a year ago but found, “It was very difficult to find housing that our family could fit comfortably in and afford on a single family income.”
“I’ve always supported myself since I was 15, both my parents passed away at a young age,” she said of her struggles arriving back in town with “nothing but my car and my son, that was it.”
Staying in a resort cabin over the winter, knowing she’d have to move out in June, she attended an open house at the new development where she and her son quickly fell for it.
Wesnedge remembered playing in the adjacent park when she lived on the other side of it as a kid and now her soccer playing son loved the idea.
“I want the little blue one by the park,” he told her and “when they told me I had unit number 23, by the park, of course I burst into tears because that was the one my son wanted.”
They settled in quickly, giving her the comfort and stability to find a new job just blocks away and her son has other children in the safe little complex to play with, away from the road.
“A year later I’m no longer on welfare,” she said beaming.
The project started with the Qualicum and Parksville Kiwanis Housing Society donating the land of their previous 20 unit Kiwanis Housing, worth $1.1 million. The society also provided $268,000 in equity and contributions and manages the complex.
“Our society is fortunate to have the strong support of levels of government and our community to build Qualicum Park Village for seniors and families in need of affordable homes,” said Pat Weber, society president.
The Town of Qualicum Beach contributed $374,380 in various waived fees and $250,000 in matching fundraising contributions. The B.C. government arranged approximately $3.6 million in construction financing for the project and the Regional District of Nanaimo waived $62,000 in development fees.
“These new homes meet the housing needs across generations from families to seniors within a beautiful natural setting,” said Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation and Parksville-Qualicum MLA.
“The new housing complex is a great addition to our town and we’d like to welcome all the families and seniors to their new homes,” said Mayor Teunis Westbroek, adding the town was grateful to take part.