What works elsewhere

A resident sits outside the 166-unit RiverBend Seniors Community that opened in Prince George in 2016.

Two subsidized housing projects that could bring dozens of new homes to Summerland’s downtown core have earned preliminary support from council.

The first would see the 20-unit Legion Village site at 13609 Dickson Ave. redeveloped with taller buildings for an extra 40 to 60 homes

The other would see the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre redevelop the lot it owns at 13212 Henry Ave. with a four-storey building that would have the food bank and offices on the ground floor and 12 units of affordable housing above.

Both proposals are just getting off the ground, and the respective organizations appeared before council Monday to request letters of support that will assist with obtaining project funding from BC Housing.

“It’s kind of like it never rains, but it pours,” Mayor Toni Boot said after council unanimously approved the two support letters.

“It’s been so dry in terms of affordable housing, and now, one after another, here are these very exciting opportunities for the residents of Summerland.”

Legion Village – which has no affiliation with the Royal Canadian Legion – is operated by the Summerland Senior Citizens Housing Society and opened in the 1970s. Residents, who must be 65 or older, have their rent set at 30% of their gross monthly income.

“They have a waiting list that is fairly significant, so the idea at this time is to explore the option of redeveloping that site,” explained Scott Zukiwsky, a consultant hired to assist with the project.

 “We recognize it’s a low-density area surrounding it, so this would be a building that’s a little bit different for the immediate area, but we’re hoping to pitch something in the range of three, maybe four, storeys, then we would add some density if possible to be (at) 40 to 60 units,” he said.

“Again, this is as preliminary as it gets.”

Zukiwsky assured council existing Legion Village tenants would be accommodated during constriction.

The other project would allow the Summerland Food Bank to move out of the Summerland United Church and into its own space just down the block and directly across from municipal hall.

The rental homes would be considered affordable by BC Housing standards and offer residents more independence than supportive or transitional housing.

Linda Van Alphen, director of the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, said the church has given its blessing to the idea, but still wishes to explore the possibility of joining forces on a shelter-type project in the future.

Should the respective groups be successful in securing grant funding, they would then have to return to council and go through the usual process for property redevelopment.