The clouds parted for a brief time this week, as if knowing there was an outdoor celebration of community and family planned in Willow Point.
On Wednesday, Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (HHVIN) and the City of Campbell River broke ground on its newest build site at the corner of Westgate and Dalton Roads.
“The City of Campbell River has been great to us,” said Patrick McKenna, executive director of HHVIN at the event, in thanking the city for the land that made the build possible. “We’re, I don’t want to say stymied in the Comox Valley, but … let’s just say it’s just darned easier for us to build here in Campbell River.”
He also thanked the volunteers that make the whole thing possible.
“Habitat is built on the backs of our great volunteers,” McKenna said. “On our last build, we were in excess of 8,000 volunteer hours to build the two on Hilchey. That’s just a phenomenal commitment from our volunteers.”
Thanks to those volunteers and the city for donating the land, two more hard working families making between $20,000 and $44,000 per year will be purchasing their own homes, thanks to the duplex to be built on the site.
“We have six families who have qualified,” McKenna said. Since only two of those will be partners in the Dalton/Westgate build, HHVIN will now be looking for more land, so they can keep building and selling houses to community members to break the cycle of poverty.
“A lot of these hard working families are paying over 50 per cent of their income on rent,” McKenna said. “That leaves nothing left over at the end of the day. When we can cap their mortgage at 30 per cent, it funnels the leftover money (that they used to spend on rent) to the education of their children.”
Mayor Andy Adams returned the thanks given to him by McKenna, saying it’s the community who should be thankful for HHVIN, not the other way around.
What the city is committed to continue to do, Adams continued, is to provide the land, utilities and waive the development permit fees so that builds can continue to happen.
In terms of future development, Adams told the crowd he couldn’t pinpoint any further possible sites right now, “but I can tell you that we are looking at future properties so you can continue to move forward, because we see this as a real success story. We’re going to continue to make it as easy as possible for you guys to build.”
Though they officially broke ground on Wednesday, they now have to clear the property to prepare it for the March 7 start of the build, which would make for a mid-June completion of the duplex.
McKenna says they have another delegation planned to go before city council Jan. 25 to pitch for more land to build on.
“Our plan now is to ramp up our building so we can get to somewhere between four and eight houses per year,” he said. “We’re building capacity now, and the land bank is the most important part of that. If we have land, all it takes then is money and volunteers and commitment,” which is the easy stuff to come by, he says, thanks to the people of Campbell River’s support.