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Rent range for affordable housing on 1st Avenue North the same as when project first announced: Province

The rent range for affordable housing remains the same as when the project on 1st Avenue North in downtown Williams Lake was announced according to the Province.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said the rent range of $375 to $925 for 39 affordable homes in Williams Lake remains the same as when the project was announced in 2018.

“All of the units will be at or below the 2017 Housing Income Limits (HILs) for Williams Lake, except for one three-bedroom unit, which will be a specialized Community Living BC (CLBC) unit,” the Ministry said in an email.

“Housing Income Limits represent the income required to pay the average market rent for an appropriately sized unit in the private market.”

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Monthly rental rates for the project will be as follows:

  • Three studio units at the provincial shelter rate of $375/month
  • Five one-bedroom units at $500/month – low-income units
  • 27 one-bedroom units at $800/month – HILs units
  • Three two-bedroom units at $925/month – HILs units

The three-bedroom CLBC unit will consist of two accessible units for people with disabilities and one caregiver unit. CLBC will pay the monthly rent of $1,600.

“This project is within budget,” the Ministry added.

“The Province, through BC Housing, is providing a grant of $8 million through the Affordable Rental Housing Program. This program funds housing for low-to-moderate-income renters, seniors, and adults with mental health challenges or developmental disabilities.”

Williams Lake to ask Province to reinstate the full subsidized units

Williams Lake City Council will be requesting to meet with the Premier and Minister of Housing at next week’s UBCM to request that all 39 units in the downtown housing project that is nearing completion remain subsidized.

Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to meet province to further discuss the issue following the motion by Councillor Scott Nelson.

“Council had originally agreed and we had worked through the process to provide much needed affordable housing, and at the time I worked at Three Corners so I watched this building go up,” Councillor Marnie Brenner said.

“It’s a beautiful building and I had heard that the building was full before it was even basically started, and then the last couple of weeks I had heard that there was only going to be a very few spaces for affordable housing and I was really, really disappointed in the fact that we would not be able to change that. It just seems wrong that we’re promising something and we’ve done something to provide this, and then in the last parts of this housing going up we’re providing service that we’re taking away, so I was really disappointed in that.”

Council had voted to approve a variance permit on the required parking spaces last March as the project’s coordinator said that the actual parking needs for subsidized housing are greatly reduced as compared to market condominiums.

Councillor Scott Nelson said the Province cannot legally change that.

CAO Milo MacDonald said following the meeting at UBCM, staff will seek legal counsel and advise Mayor and Council.

“I was excited tonight to be able to hear that when Scott said we have it in writing that this was the process and we have a way to go back and hold government accountable. I think it’s really important that we as Council were able to do that because there were lots of times when our hands are tied and the public doesn’t realize that our hands are tied and decisions are made, and it may seem like Council is not being careful and they’re not being aware,” Brenner said.

“Sometimes I seat in the sit and I feel terrible because I know that’s the perception that we’re giving, is that we’re not caring whereas this is a situation in which we can make a difference and we can go back, so I’m really excited about that and I’m excited to see what the outcome is and I’m very hopeful and feel very strongly that we have the opportunity to go to UBCM and meet with Ministers directly so that we’re going to be able to say that this is an issue and hold them accountable and be able to talk to them face to face.”

Williams Lake Creek Apartments is slated to open December 1, 2019.

The B.C. government is working in partnership to build 114,000 affordable homes that cover the full spectrum of housing needs for British Columbians by 2028. In less than two years, there are already 21,000 affordable homes complete or underway in close to 90 communities across B.C.

(Listen to the author of this report with Councillor Scott Nelson in the audio file below)
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