Friday, January 20, 2023

Housing solutions for Prince Rupert still a bit off, as BC Housing works on permit planning and partnerships for McKay Street and other projects

Fences around the proposed redevelopment for McKay Street may be
up for a while yet

The path of progress for replacement of BC Housing in the McKay Street and Kootenay Avenue areas is still it appears going to be a fairly slow process ahead. 

With BC Housing offering some background on where their plans are at the moment for the much anticipated development on the west side of the city..

The background to their work comes following our article on the pace of the project from Tuesday and a correspondence request we made to MLA Jennifer Rice's office to find out what was happening with the stalled development of new housing in that area of town.

Ms. Rice's staff forwarded our request to BC Housing, which did provide some background to the issue today, noting of  their work with community partners, as well as some of the challenges to date since the last public engagement that they note of from August of 2021.

Shrief Fadl, a Senior Communications Specialist with BC housing looked into the status of the plans following a request from the North Coast Review and by way of email, delivered the following statement towards the progress for the project this morning.

"BC Housing believes that everyone has a right to a secure and stable home and empathizes with the struggles of tenants in Prince Rupert and across the province during the ongoing housing crisis. 

To help address the housing needs of the Prince Rupert community, BC Housing is working closely with its partners to bring new affordable rental townhomes and apartments through the Harbour View Gardens redevelopment. 

The redevelopment aims to replace older housing stock with newer housing units that are up to modern standards of accessibility, sustainability and building best practices. The project will include a new amenity and play area for tenants, accessible housing and improvements to the local park. 

As this is a large-scale project that includes numerous partners as well as residents already living on-site, BC Housing is committed to engaging with the community to ensure their feedback is heard. 

BC Housing completed our latest round of community engagement in August 2021 and since that time, BC Housing and the consultant team have been working on completing a rezoning application for the project, as well as finalizing project plans in order to complete the phase 1 development permit. 

BC Housing is also working with its partners to mitigate any further delays related to the unique climate challenges that may impact construction timelines. 

Additionally, BC Housing is partnering with the Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society (PRIHS) to build 20 family-oriented housing units on a separate lot on the same site. 

This development is being led by PRIHS. 

BC Housing has also relocated tenants outside of the planned phase 1 area of the project, to other portions of the Harbour View Gardens site and other BC Housing complexes in Prince Rupert. 

 We look forward to sharing additional updates in the future."

The statement does cover a lot of familiar material from the past, but it doesn't provide a timeline of sorts as to when resident of the area may see some actual construction.  

We have reached out to Mr. Fadl to determine if BC Housing has a ballpark timeframe in mind towards a start date. And should we hear of one, we will update the story.

Still, with no firm idea as to when we may see a start, the state of the  project may be a frustration for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and her staff, who regularly hear comments on housing in the community and may wish to reach out to both BC Housing and the Ministry of Housing to try to accelerate the urgency towards the program.

It may be a timely moment for the MLA to do so, with the government of Premier David Eby having put much focus on housing since he took on the top job in the fall.

The glacial pace of the plans will also we imagine continue to make for some rough times for Prince Rupert City Council, which often finds itself on the front lines for feedback when it comes to Housing issues in the community.

Council does have some success stories to point towards for the near future.  

First from the seemingly close to opening Digby Towers renovation project, though the baseline rents for those units have yet to be noted for the public.

As well, there should be progress made this year on the Lax Kw'alaams housing development of an apartment complex on 11th Avenue East.

However, at this point in time for the community and for the foreseeable future, the demand for affordable accommodation would seem to be something that will outpace the supply of such by a significant amount.

And if projected forecasts of job creation and population growth for Prince Rupert move forward, that need will make what is an already grim situation, one that is even more challenging.  

For the community it is reassuring to hear that the McKay street project is still in motion, though that hopeful thought is tempered by an update today doesn't really offer much for those in the community seeking accommodation now.  

Or, for those facing what seems to be a growing number of renovictions in the community.

A topic which may make its way to Prince Rupert City Council on Monday night at the final Council session for this month.

You can review more themes on the housing issues in Prince Rupert and the Northwest from our archive pages below:

1 comment:

  1. I don’t care about the play ground. Why doesn’t B.C. Housing do something worth while an redo the path from McKay Street to Park Ave.
    The path should be repaired wheelchair accessible and kept up by BC Housing. The city has a playground in the area.

    BC Housing should be a good corporate citizen and lead by example.Their snow removal of the properties they hold is non existent on the sidewalks along the roadways.
    Any management that takes over the properties should set example. M’aKola is a terrible example of property management.