Monday, May 4, 2015

Council's housing moves thus far trending to the upper end of the pricing spectrum

Concerns over Housing have been declared as a major issue for the current City Council this year, with many of the Council members having made it a major priority item for Council sessions.

For many, it's a carry over point from the November municipal election campaign, as they continue with their determination to bring discussion points related to housing issues into the agenda packages of their twice a month council meetings.

As we've noted on the blog in the past, so far, much of their focus has been targeted towards the collection of data and through conversations with stakeholders in the community, as council members try and come up with a plan to direct towards the issue that has been a fixture of Council sessions over the last few years.

However, while they discuss and work out the details of their social and community housing ideas, when it comes to actual creation of housing spaces, the price point of new housing options would seem to be trending away from the grasp of those looking for relief from the current local situation.

Last week Council moved forward a proposal to redevelop the former Baptist church on India Avenue into Executive Suites apartments.

Councillor Mirau outlined the city's move in that direction by way of his Facebook page with an entry posted to his social media portal last week that highlighted his enthusiasm for the India Avenue proposal.

Last Monday's Council session appears to have been a rather controversial one, the report on it from the weekly newspaper suggests that concerns were raised by some council members about the proposed development, with two councillors, Mr, Niesh and Mr. Cunningham in the end voting against the project.

As well, it appears that during the heated discussions, words were spoken during the council session that raised tempers and seemingly left the proponent of the project more than a little upset at some of the commentary of the council session.

Though, any comprehensive record of that exchange (or the rest of the April 27th council session for that matter) is still not available for public review. With the City to this point still holding back the video archive of the meeting from their public archive portal.

As for the now approved India Avenue development itself, the new units should they be constructed will have a rent value set at somewhere between 1800--2500 dollars per month.

Something that we suspect, is a little out of the reach for many of those currently caught in a rental crunch situation in the city.

The India Avenue project however is not the only development currently under consideration that is probably going to have a pretty high price point.

The west side development proposed for Park Avenue, currently working its way through the public process, is being outlined as similar in nature to the existing stock of housing on Graham Avenue.

The most recent public information session for that proposal highlighted homes that will be featuring large lots and harbour views, which probably would suggest a price point along the same lines as the housing along the Graham Avenue area.

Again, something a little beyond the reach of those looking for more modest accommodations today.

To its credit, Council has been trying to find solutions to their housing concerns,  dividing up the work load for two Committees related to housing issues in the community.

Most recently, Councillor Thorkelson offered up an idea to make use of smaller lots in the city to create social, or more modest housing options, though there has yet to be any indication as to how such units would be paid for and for now the concept is still not much more than an brainstorming idea.

One interesting option for housing that is starting to take root in other communities is to make use of shipping containers to create studio style apartments and other combinations of living space.

Something that might prove to be a workable idea for some of the land space that the city is considering for its own housing concepts.

Global BC has provided a fairly good overview of the proposals for container style housing in Vancouver, showcasing what the final result might look like when placed in city neighbourhoods and how it may address Vancouver's housing problems.

Considering the growing importance of shipping containers to the economy of the North Coast, it would be interesting to see if those same containers might one day be used to address an issue that has been the focus of Council since they took office in December.

For more items related to housing issues in the North Coast see our archive page here.

Update: Please note that the video archive of City Council for April 27th has now been made available through You Tube, you can review it here. The issues related to the India Avenue project arrive at the fifty five minute mark and continue through until just past the one hour thirty minute mark.

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