While public opinions were mixed on a proposed affordable housing project for Summerland, municipal council unanimously approved the third reading of the bylaw to allow the five-storey, 60-unit building to proceed.
The property, at 8709 Jubilee Rd. E., has been vacant for many years. Earlier, it was the site of the Summerland RCMP detachment.
Ann Howard of Turning Points, the owner and operator of the proposed affordable housing project, said the unit is for people earning minimum wage as well as those on disability support or fixed income. “It’s not an emergency shelter. This is not supportive housing,” she said.
She added that she has already received emails from people interested in living in the proposed development, even though Turning Points is not yet taking applications.
Janet Peake, president of the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, said the community has been discussing the need for affordable housing for at least the past 10 years. “Everyone deserves a safe, warm, decent place to live,” she said.
John Bubb, past president of the food bank, has also been a proponent of affordable housing for many years.
“A strong, successful society takes care of its less fortunate people,” he said.
Hal Roberts, resource coordinator at the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, said there is a lack of affordable accommodations in Summerland. This has resulted in some residents leaving the community in order to find more affordable housing elsewhere.
David Sparks, who lives across the road from the proposed development, suggested a four-storey building instead of the five-storey design which has been proposed.
Kevin Mulcair, a resident of Purves Road, suggested a 20-unit building with 40 parking spaces instead of the 60-unit concept. He said the present design will result in parking and traffic safety problems along Jubilee Road East.
Jackie Carlson, who lives across from the development, said she is concerned about the location and the height of the building.
Members of Summerland council said there is a need for more affordable housing units in the community.
“These are people looking for a hand up and they’re not looking for a handout,” said Coun. Doug Patan
Coun. Erin Trainer said she knows of young families in the community who have been searching for housing.
“This is exactly what our town needs,” she said. “I think it’s something we really need to do.”
Coun. Marty Van Alphen said discussions about affordable housing have been happening for a long time. The issue was raised during the last municipal election in the fall of 2018.
Mayor Toni Boot said the development would be a much better use of the property than an earlier housing proposal which had been discussed around 12 years ago.
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