by Andru McCracken
The Valemount Affordable Rentals Society is already helping fill Valemount’s housing gap. The society chose to open up suites intended for students of the fledgling Valemount College.
“We wanted them used,” said Korie Marshall, vice president of the society, of the Juniper Square project (formerly the Ramakada Motel). “It’s been a rollercoaster ride figuring out what we are doing and how. With the college not kicking off as quickly as we hoped I’m happy we’re providing housing to people right now. It’s obviously filling a need because the units are full.”
Marshall said the society wouldn’t kick out residents of Juniper Square to accommodate students, though some tenants are on a month-to-month rental arrangement.
“The tricky part is we didn’t put time limits on rentals. When students come, if there is space available, they can use it. If not they will have to find other space.”
Juniper Square is across the street from the Golden Years Lodge and has two one bedroom apartments and six bachelor suites.
Marshall said VARS has just been approved for preliminary development funding for their 13-unit apartment complex, to be built next door to Juniper Square. That means they can use funds from BC Housing to hire an architect.
“Now we will work with our housing development consultant to figure out who we hire,” she said.
Marshall said it’s possible they can meet their original timeline, opening the new apartment by fall 2020.
“This is not a huge project, it’s only 13 units. It’s a little unique in BC Housing’s world. It is something that will have a really good impact on our small community. A manageable impact. It’s not 100 units; it won’t change the entire community. It’s housing for families and seniors and it is much needed.”
Help from CBT
The Columbia Basin Trust reports it is spending $1.5 million dollars to build 118 new units in five communities, including providing $169,400 for VARS’ 13-unit apartment.
“These units are a vital addition to the range of housing options in these five communities,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “We know that communities are healthier and more resilient when residents can access and afford suitable places to live, and we’re eager to see these projects become tangible spaces that will soon make a difference in people’s daily lives.”