The City of Williams Lake has issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) for a non-profit housing society to enter into a partnership for redevelopment of the Cariboo Lodge site, to help address the City’s affordable housing needs.
The vision of the partnership is for a non-profit society to work alongside the City of Williams Lake to vision and design the project. The Society would take on the role of managing the development process, including taking a lead role in identifying funding, and would eventually be responsible for operating the project. This EOI will be followed by a Request For Proposal for a Development Consultant to initiate a preliminary design and feasibility plan for the project.
The City acquired the Cariboo Lodge property in 2008 from Interior Health. It had been vacant for some time and there was considerable damage to the interior of the building. In 2009 a preliminary building audit identified substantial problems with the two older portions of the building, with limited options for renovation or repair. The newest portion of the building was leased in 2010 to the Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilcotin Branch for a residential tertiary mental health program.
In 2011, the City retained City Spaces Consulting to conduct a Need and Demand Analysis for Williams Lake. The report was updated in early 2014 to provide additional information and up to date data analysis in preparation for next steps informing affordable housing needs in Williams Lake. The study process was overseen by the Cariboo Lodge Task Force, and managed by the City of Williams Lake’s Manager of Social Development.
In Williams Lake, housing developments have primarily been single family, large lot developments both inside and outside city boundaries. Of the total housing stock in Williams Lake 63% of the housing is owner-occupied while 37% is rented. The average house price in Williams Lake is $259,203, an increase from 2013.
Affordable housing is not only an issue for those who are not employed and are in receipt of government subsidies. While income assistance recipients find it nearly impossible to find rental housing that is within their shelter funds (maximum $375 for a single person and $570 for couples), many of those who are employed in the retail and service industries and in other low paid positions have problems finding affordable rents. Rental rates have generally increased since 2008 despite economic decline. Rental rates ranged from $436 for a bachelor unit to $586 for a one-bedroom apartment, and average $825 for a three bedroom apartment. Vacancy rates have come down considerably from