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OPINION: More affordable housing a necessity in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Latest proposed project a nice start

NEWS: Town of Qualicum Beach officials got an opportunity to see first-hand the design of a proposed affordable housing project located on a property at Railway Street and Village Way.

VIEWS: More of this, please.

We’re all aware of how lucky we are to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

We should all also be aware of just how expensive it can be to live here.

The Parksville Qualicum Beach area’s benchmark home price is more than $600,000.

The average condo sells for more than $375,000. Average lot sale price are in excess of $300K. Even scraping together the funds to enter the home ownership market is remarkably difficult - and rental prices are hefty as well.

So it was nice to see last week, when we got a look at an upcoming project in Qualicum Beach.

The project, spearheaded by the Qualicum-Parksville Kiwanis Housing Society, proposes an affordable 56-unit multi-residential development on the town-owned land. It will feature an apartment building with 48 rental units and a separate eight townhouses. The society has leased the property from the town for 60 years to construct and operate the building. The land, approximately 7,690 square metres, was rezoned in early 2020. The proposed five-storey apartment building will feature a mix of studio, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

READ MORE: Council gets first look at plans for affordable housing project in Qualicum Beach

Most important was the potential price point.

Coun. Teunis Westbroek asked what the rental rates were going to be and the proponents indicated rental for a studio apartment is projected to be $375 per month, while the two-bedroom units will be $560.

It’s hard to keep younger people living and working in the area if they can’t find places to live. Our most vulnerable people also deserve the chance to have an affordable roof over their heads.

We’d like to see more steps taken – by all levels of government – to ensure this is a possibility.

“There’s a lot of people who are homeless or close to homeless because there’s no place for them they can afford to rent. But they work in the town and living in their vehicles or couch surfing. So this would be a big help to a lot of people who work for low-to-medium income in Qualicum Beach,” said Westbroek.

Well stated.

The town also plans to give residents a chance to provide input and comment on the design, though not necessarily the location, which has been decided.

Let’s hope that during that comment period, enough voices are heard that this isn’t just a one-off.

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