B.C. Premier John Horgan (at right) with LSIB Chief Keith Crow (middle) and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robertson (left) at the announcement in Keremeos about affordable housing in 2019. (Review File Photo)

B.C. Premier John Horgan (at right) with LSIB Chief Keith Crow (middle) and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robertson (left) at the announcement in Keremeos about affordable housing in 2019. (Review File Photo)

Lower Similkameen Community Services Society looks to community to keep housing project affordable

The Ambrosia development was refused partially waving of $178,325 in development costs by Council

At Feb. 18’s meeting for the Village of Keremeos Council, council rejected the request to partially waive the Village’s development cost charges for an affordable housing project.

The Lower Similkameen Community Services Society (LSCSS) has expressed their disappointment over the decision, and announced they would be looking for further community support to keep the project affordable.

The development costs for the 43 unit Ambrosia development on 718 Veterans Way came to an estimated $178,325 in the report prepared for council.

READ MORE: Support strong for affordable housing building in Keremeos

During the meeting, mayor Manfred Bauer pointed to the council’s previous support for the LSCSS’s work as part of the reason why they would not support the request to lower the development cost charges (DCC’s).

“As a matter of fact, as you can see on the report, we have actually done so in the past on various projects. Council has been incredibly supportive of affordable housing, considering our small space and size, I think we’re leading the way,” said Bauer. “But there comes a point where you have to say ‘Sorry, we can’t afford to do that, we’re just too small a town.’

“On this particular project, we have already rezoned the site specifically to allow for reduced parking, which equates to a reduction in the fees of $150,000 on this project already. Personally, I think we cannot afford to reduce the DCC’s on this one any more than we have already.”

All members of the council voted to support the motion to deny the LSCSS’s request.

The money from the DCCs, as described in council, would go towards the village’s surplus and into their reserves for future capital expenditures, specifically infrastructure projects.

READ MORE: Premier releases details on Keremeos affordable housing project

The LSCSS has expressed their disappointment with the rejection of their request, as well as their understanding of council’s reasoning.

In a statement on the matter, the board of directors said the “Society is grateful for support from the Village on many of our other projects and understands that the DCCS help support the maintenance and improvement of infrastructure for our housing communities and the other homes and businesses in the community. “

Going forward, the development of the Ambrosia housing project will continue to receive the support of the provincial government with partial funding, while the majority of the construction costs will be supported by rental revenues.

As part of ongoing efforts to keep the project as affordable as possible, when completed the society will be increasing fundraising efforts in the coming months.

In addition to the residential units for seniors, people with disabilities and families, the Ambrosia development also includes a large office space that is planned to become the hub for many of the services the LSCSS delivers to the Similkameen Valley.

Construction of the development will continue to go forward with the initial ground-breaking with the society and members of the local community in March.

To report a typo, email: editor@keremeosreview.com.


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