Penticton champions new affordable housing project, but at what cost?
By Marshall Jones
Housing minister Rich Coleman announced an affordable housing partnership with the City in Penticton Monday.
Image Credit: Contributed/Helena Konanz
November 09, 2015 - 4:30 PM
PENTICTON - The city is getting a big boost to affordable housing, but it’s going to come at the eventual relocation of the Penticton Lawn Bowling club.
The City of Penticton and the province say as many as 70 new affordable housing units will be built in two phases on the site in the 200 block of Brunswick St. The first will take over the parking lot beside the lawn bowling club, then when the club’s lease expires in 2020, that site will be used for affordable housing as well.
The club was informed by the city today, Nov. 9. Calls to the lawn bowling club were not returned.
Many details about the affordable housing project are yet to be determined. While the city has committed the land and B.C. Housing has committed to fund construction, a third partner is required. They are looking for non-profit housing societies to submit proposals for design, construction and operation.
Dollar estimates were requested from B.C. Housing but not provided because it will depend on the proposal. The ministry declined to provide a range of funding.
Data indicates South Okanagan families are being squeezed — call it the Sunshine Tax. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation pegs the vacancy rate for family rentals in the city at between 1.1 per cent and non-existent. Average incomes in the South Okanagan are well below the provincial average and yet housing prices are higher than in many B.C. communities.
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says the city has talked about affordable housing for years and is now finally doing something about it.
"If we can make Penticton a more affordable place to live, it will help our community grow and make us more prosperous,” he said today.
He is also hopeful the project will revitalize downtown as well as provide those families with an ideal location‚ four blocks from the beach and less than two blocks from downtown. The project is specifically for affordable housing, not social housing.
The city has already agreed to forgo development cost charges on the project and even offered some tax relief in early years to help bring down costs.
The first phase will be 284-298 Brunswick Street, which is currently general use parking and parking for the lawn bowling club. The second phase, for 260 Brunswick Street, will replace the lawn bowling club.
While Jakubeit hasn’t spoken to anyone at the club today — City staff informed them — he expects a move could benefit them as well.
The future home of a new affordable housing development in Penticton. What will happen to the seniors lawn bowling club when its lease with the City of Penticton expires in 2020 is unclear.
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— This story was edited at 6:49 p.m. to clarify the headline
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