Terry Rose, resident caretaker for a newly-opened housing project at 340 South Island Hwy., said residents are glad to have a place to live. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

‘A place to call home’: New housing project opens in Campbell River

Renovated motel to accommodate low- and moderate-income people in 39 units

A new 39-unit social housing facility opened in Campbell River on Friday amid a housing crisis marked by escalating rents and low vacancy.

Terry Rose, the building’s resident caretaker, said that people moving into the building are happy just to have a roof over their heads, as he showed the Mirror one of the humble units of the former seaside motel.

“Everyone’s quite happy to be here,” he said. “(It’s) the fact they have a place they can call their home.”

Sixteen people have already moved into the 39 units of the former Travelodge at 340 South Island Hwy., and the building is expected to be full by the end of January, said Kevin Albers, the CEO of M’akola Housing Society, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing primarily to Indigenous people.

Rent for each single-occupancy apartment is $500 per month, a price that’s well below the going rates in Campbell River. Hydro and water are included, but not Internet or telephone service, he said.

READ MORE: Former Campbell River hotel to be converted into low-income housing

READ MORE: Campbell River supportive living facility celebrates 25 years amid housing crunch

READ MORE: Neighbours’ fears about Campbell River Travelodge property alleviated

The Mirror viewed a modestly furnished studio apartment, which contained a double bed with a dresser and a television, and two bedside tables.

A kitchen counter was equipped with a mini-fridge, a hotplate and a microwave, and the small bathroom was newly renovated and included a full-sized bath.

The facility was previously expected to open in fall 2017, and Albers attributed the delay to problems including “the surprises that you uncover in a renovation” and finding contractors.

“In this marketplace – just a booming marketplace in residential construction – being able to find trades to actually do the work is very challenging,” he said, adding that similar problems have cropped up elsewhere in the province.

People apply for subsidized units through BC Housing, which evaluates need based on a number of criteria, including income. M’akola Housing Society then places people from that list into apartments as they become available, said Albers.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in a statement that elders from the Indigenous community and other seniors, along with people with physical disabilities, would be among those who benefit from the new facility.

The building is owned and operated by the M’akola Housing Society, and the province provided $6.5 million in capital funding for the project, according to the statement.

A committee of residents at the neighbouring Silversea condos initially raised objections when the housing project was announced last year, saying they had been left in the dark about plans and arguing that it would reduce their property values.

Following a meeting with officials behind the project, the committee said their concerns had been alleviated, and during speeches by dignitaries at the outdoor opening event on Friday, a Silversea resident waved to the assembled crowd from their window.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena – who is also the New Democrat MLA for the North Island – said the new facility was a much needed project, especially for Indigenous people.

“People are struggling to afford a place to live,” Trevena said. “It’s especially true for Indigenous people, who we know are more likely than the non-Indigenous to be living in unsafe or overcrowded homes.”

A report on regional housing needs released earlier this year by the Strathcona Community Health Network said that rent in Campbell River has increased by 42 per cent over the past decade. Meanwhile, the vacancy rate has plunged from seven per cent to 1.3 per cent.

The report notes that seniors are among the most vulnerable when it comes to housing, along with people on low incomes, First Nations people and those with mental health or addictions issues.


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Provincial Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena, who is also MLA for the North Island riding, was at the opening of a new social housing project in Campbell River on Friday. Photo David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

North Island emergency and safety organizations get government funding

Seven not-for-profit emergency and safety organizations in the North Island received $219,500… Continue reading

Campbell River Killer Whales divide and conquer meets on opposite sides of the country

Eight athletes competed in Montreal, while 15 made a splash in Victoria over the weekend

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Campbell River Amnesty International chapter to host Write for Rights events

Opportunity to take action on human rights cases focussing on youth Dec. 10 at the library

VIDEO: Led by ‘Marriage Story,’ Netflix dominates Golden Globe noms

Netflix flexed its muscles across all categories, just as it is girding for battle with a host of new streaming services

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

74% of 911 calls are from cellphones, so know your location: E-Comm

Cell tower triangulation generally only narrows location down to the block someone is calling from

No negligence in RCMP actions in B.C. teen’s overdose death: IIO

Police acted properly when they responded to the first reports of the boy being in distress

320 years since the ‘Big One’ doesn’t mean it’s overdue: B.C. professor

‘It could happen today, tomorrow or 100 years from now’

Would you leave your baby alone to go to the gym? This Canadian dad did

The man identifies just as a divorced dad with a nine-month-old baby

B.C. coroner asking for help identifying man found dead in Peace region

Mounties have deemed the man’s death not suspicious and believe he died earlier this year

Lawyer competence includes knowledge of Indigenous-Crown history: B.C. law society

All practising lawyers in B.C. will be required to take a six-hour online course covering these areas

Wealth of Canadians divided along racial lines, says report on income inequality

One interesting finding was that racialized men have a higher employment rate than non-racialized men

Most Read