Various Nanaimo affordable housing and shelter projects moving ahead

By Spencer Sterritt
October 2, 2018 - 5:32pm

Two affordable housing projects and one shelter project were considered by Nanaimo council on Monday.City of Nanaimo

NANAIMO — Several affordable housing projects which could significantly help struggling Nanaimo residents have taken important steps towards opening their doors.

During Monday's council meeting, a development permit was approved for a 23-unit personal care facility at the corner of Rosehill St. and Terminal Ave.

Proposed by the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society, it will provide 23 single occupancy studio apartments. Some units will have rent based on income, while others will be offered at shelter rates for those on income assistance.

Society executive director Taryn O'Flanagan told NanaimoNewsNOW the $1.7 million housing project is designed for people who've achieved a stable position in life and a ready for something more permanent.

“This will provide an opportunity for those folks who are currently living in a transitional housing situation to have a lifetime home,” she said. “We're going to provide staff support to folks who live in the building so they have tenancy support to maintain that housing and ongoing check-ins as needed.”

The development permit came with two variances, for a shortened front yard and a reduction of parking spaces from five to two.

The permit was approved with only coun. Sheryl Armstrong opposed.

“I think it's a great project, but I have a big issue with the parking variance,” she said. “It's going to put another burden on the already burdened parking area in the neighbourhood.”

Two other projects designed to help Nanaimo residents in need were supported by council during Monday's meeting.

The first was a housing agreement bylaw for the redevelopment of the Brechin United Church on Estevan Rd. It's being redesigned as a church on the ground floor with 74 units of rental housing built above.

The housing agreement given third reading on Monday guarantees 38 of the available units will be considered affordable under the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This means they will cost 80 per cent of the average rent in the Nanaimo market.

The second housing agreement given third reading by councillors was for a new BC Housing-run residential shelter on Salmon Rd. for women and families fleeing violence.

Under the housing agreement, the allowed number of people staying inside the home will be raised to 10.

Both housing agreements will be back before council for final approval in the near future.

The City of Nanaimo recently endorsed their long-in-the-works affordable housing strategy, which proposes different types of housing, more partnerships with community organizations and altered legislation to provide more housing options. 

It was approved shortly before Nanaimo's tent city of roughly 300 people was given an eviction notice, forcing hundreds back onto Nanaimo streets and into parks.


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