Williams Lake City Council has voted unanimously to request the Premier and Minister of Housing to keep all 39 units as subsidized in the new BC Housing project nearing completion on First Avenue North.
“The province does not have the right or the authority to turn it into market rents because they signed an agreement which is subject to the zoning which is on title,” Nelson said.
Nelson provided copies of the original letter from Craven/Huston/Powers/Architects to the City, dated May 16, 2017, which stated the rationale for a parking variance – from 80 to 31 stalls – was the “project typography is subsidized housing in partnership with BC Housing. As with most other BC Housing developments, the actual parking needs for subsidized housing is greatly reduced as compared to market condominiums, as a large portion of the tenants will not have access to private vehicles, but will rely on other transportation methods.”
“We needed the affordable housing in the downtown core, that’s why we supported it,” Nelson said.
Council also unanimously approved requesting a meeting with the Premier and the Minister of Housing at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Annual Convention taking place next week in Vancouver to address the issue.
CAO Milo MacDonald said after the conversation with the Premier and Minister of Housing, staff will seek legal counsel and advise mayor and council.
A Williams Lake city councillor is demanding that the province reinstate 39 affordable housing units back into the lakecity.
“Our commitment to the affordable housing community was to build them and house them in the downtown core,” said Coun. Scott Nelson Tuesday morning. “The province, by their own admission, blew the budget by $4 million and to recapture that money revenue they picked out 31 affordable units from a brand new facility prior to its Christmas opening.”
Those spots are designated for affordable housing, Nelson said, which is why the community compromised on that particular location by giving parking and tax concessions.
In a previous interview, Williams Lake Association for Community Living executive director Ian McLaughlin on behalf of the board of directors said the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation-owned building on First Avenue North’s subsidized units will be for people affected by intellectual disabilities or mental health issues.
“The remaining 31 units are market rentals, with one bedroom apartments renting for $800 a month plus utilities and two bedrooms renting for $925 per month, plus utilities,” McLauglin said, noting applicants must have a total household income of less than $71,200 a year.
“They should be ashamed of themselves,” Nelson said. “They are picking on the most vulnerable while we are trying to build them housing in our community.”
Nelson’s phone is ringing off the hook with people who are extremely disappointed because they had hoped to be living in the the new facility.
There are only eight affordable units available for families, the rest are market driven rentals based on a $72,000 annual income.
“I don’t think all the affordable housing people that would live there would make $71,200, let alone one person,” Nelson said.
At Tuesday’s regular council meeting Nelson will be bringing forward a motion to ask Premier John Horgan to reinstate the full 39 units as affordable housing or build a brand new affordable housing unit that will house 39 affordable units as promised.