BC Housing threatens to pull funding for Peachland seniors housing if parking dispute isn't settled

Seniors housing at risk

A BC Housing official has made it clear that if Peachland council doesn't make a decision soon, the funding will be pulled for the second phase of an affordable housing project for seniors.

Douglas Winter, development manager at BC Housing, was part of a delegation that made a presentation to the council on Tuesday.

The Peachland Seniors' Support Society (PSSS) has been waiting a year for the district to approve its rezoning and development applications for the second phase of Residences at 6th. It has been held up over parking and the waiving of development cost charges and other fees by the municipality.

Winter implored the district council to work with the society and BC Housing to get the project moving. He pointed out that $27 million in funding has been allocated to Peachland that could have gone to other communities.

"I just want to say that in our meeting with the Minister of Housing, he did state to us, and we have reconfirmed it, that unless we can find a good compromise together, in a collaborative way for these issues, the project money will need to be rescinded and allocated to another project or municipality that has been on that waiting list."

"So, that's what is at risk here today," said Winter.

He said that BC Housing would be willing to pay up to 50% of the development cost charges, but no agreement had been reached.

District council members also wanted reassurances from PSSS and BC Housing that Peachland residents would be given preference when deciding on tenant applications.

When questioned about the prospect of adding a parkade to the building, Winter said it would sink the project because it wouldn't be financially viable anymore as affordable housing.

Some council members expressed doubts about a proposal to close off part of 5th Street to create additional parking spaces for the project. They said there still wouldn't be enough spaces to accommodate demand.

However, Coun. Randey Brophy said there might be a solution if the district and BC Housing were to collaborate to buy a piece of property at the corner of Waldo Way and 5th Street, about to go on the market.

"There's an opportunity here if we really want to make it work, and I think it's reprehensible to deny seniors access to a home that they have waited for decades on the basis of parking.

"There's a way forward here. If we are interested in collaboration, I suggest that BC Housing and perhaps the city go hand-in-hand, $350,000 each, to buy Karen's house. You've got 25 more spots," Brophy explained.

If BC Housing pulls the funding, Winter couldn't say how long it would take for Peachland to secure provincial money for a similar affordable housing project in the future.

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