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The Valley Voice
December 14, 2017

Kaslo Housing Society presents concept for riverside property

by Jan McMurray – Republished with permission

The Kaslo Housing Society has a concept for an affordable housing complex on the Village-owned land that was set aside for them in 2001, as well as funding for a housing coordinator. Erika Bird, chair of the society, made a presentation at council’s November 28 Committee of the Whole meeting to update the Village on the society’s activities and plans.
In an interview, Bird and Debra Barrett, society secretary, said their key message to council was their continued interest in the riverside property in Kaslo, and their wish to negotiate a lease or transfer of title. “We had a very positive reception,” Bird said. Bird explained that society representatives went before council as a delegation in March, and council asked them to come back with more details about their vision for the property, and information about what other communities are doing.
“So we spent a fair bit of time coming up with a shovel-ready concept,” said Bird.
Barrett, a visual artist who has experience with home renovations, drew up conceptual drawings for a two-storey lodge with 8-12 small studio apartments and a central
courtyard. The drawings were part of the presentation to council for their feedback.
A landlord/ tenant survey conducted by the society this year confirmed that small units (for one person) with $400-$800 monthly rental fees are in greatest demand in Kaslo.
Bird said the society is looking at a phased development; the Riverside Lodge is the concept for phase one.
“We’re at the point where we can’t proceed without the equity,” Bird said “so we’ve asked council to think about that. There are a number of ways it can be done – transfer of title to the society, transfer of title to a third party, a long-term lease.”
A comment made to the society board from Rob Jaswall of CMHC (Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation) was shared with council:
“Provincial and federal government funding for affordable housing is higher now than it is has ever been. To access that funding, you have to start with dirt under your feet.”
To help move a housing project forward, the society will hire a housing coordinator. The coordinator will also work on increasing the number of rentals in town by encouraging
secondary suites and the rental of ‘dark homes’ (unoccupied by their owners for most of the year), and on resolving difficulties between landlords and tenants. Funding for the coordinator has come from CBT ($50,000) and the Kaslo and Area D Economic Development Commission ($14,000), and two more grants are pending.
They’d like to raise enough funding to offer the position for two years.