The province has bought Campbell River’s Heritage River Inn through BC Housing to provide housing for the victims of April 8’s apartment building fire. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror

Province pays $4.08 million for hotel to house fire victims

The B.C. government purchased the Heritage River Inn last week to help people who were displaced by the recent fire at the Pacific West complex in Campbell River.

“We know that finding affordable housing is challenging, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island. “This purchase and resulting new units will provide security, stability and peace of mind for people in Campbell River who lost their homes during the April fire, while we continue to work with our partners to build more affordable housing for others in need of a place to call home.”

The province, through BC Housing, has purchased the former Heritage River Inn, located at 2140 Island Highway in Campbell River. With the purchase of the Heritage River Inn, for $4.08 million, BC Housing is now able to provide 41 units of stable, long-term, affordable rental housing for low-income individuals displaced by the fire.

RELATED: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

The May 8 fire at the Pacific West apartment complex on Dogwood Street displaced nearly 90 residents and emergency housing was found for them at Campbell River hotels. That emergency housing is normally short term but the displaced residents stay was extended until May 31 while alternative housing was sought.

Over the past month, some households have been able to secure new housing, but the remaining households will soon begin moving into the former inn. The building has a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments. All units are expected to be occupied in the coming weeks.

Since April, BC Housing has provided temporary housing at a local hotel and daily meals to people displaced by the fire. The John Howard Society, Sasamans Society and the City of Campbell River also have provided daily support and assistance to help people find alternate housing.

RELATED: Campbell River fire victims’ emergency accommodations extended to May 31

“From the beginning, provincial resources and community social service agencies have been key in helping people feel safe and secure following the fire and the loss of their homes,” said Andy Adams, mayor, City of Campbell River. “With BC Housing purchasing this property and making affordable rental housing available to these people, some of the urgent need for shelter in Campbell River’s extremely limited rental market will be relieved. On behalf of council and our community, we are very appreciative of the support and quick action and look forward to continuing to work closely with BC Housing on other long-term solutions to meet the demand for local supportive and affordable housing.”

In the coming weeks, a service provider will be selected to operate the new site and oversee day-to-day management of the building. Residents will gradually start moving in over the coming weeks. BC Housing may consider redeveloping the site in the future, but at this time does not have a proposal or timeline in place. If that were to occur, BC Housing would engage the community and go through the municipal approval process.

The former owner of the hotel, Richard Wu, said he had the property up for sale for more than a month prior to BC Housing’s purchase. He was planning to go into a different line of business but wasn’t expecting anything to happen so soon due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was not expecting to get an offer but it happened quite suddenly,” Wu said.

Delivering affordable housing is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

* The Province purchased the Heritage River Inn for $4.08 million through funding from the Building BC program.

* Residents will pay monthly rent, which will be set at 30 per cent of the household’s income.

* In addition to this project, the province has invested in two other new housing projects, totalling 76 new units, which are underway in Campbell River. Those projects include:

* 49 units for women and children leaving violence; and

* 27 units for low- to moderate-income households.

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