Tackling affordable housing

Affordable housing and rental options are few and far between in Summerland, but Tuesday night's community conversation at the Summerland Library showcased projects that are in the works to alleviate the problem.

Erick Thompson of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and the Summerland Housing Task Force ran the meeting, which was open to the public and included a question and answer period.

"The most important thing we can do is be talking together to make sure that people understand the potential, the need and what is working right now," Thompson said. 

Representatives from BC Housing explained how projects pitched by developers in the District of Summerland could be financed.

"We don’t build your project for you but we try to help every group, really from the bottom of our hearts we bend over backwards to try and work with people," they said. "We act as a friendly bank."

Also presenting were representatives from two Summerland churches, the Summerland United Church and the Summerland Alliance Church. Both presented plans for affordable housing on their land, though they both stressed plans were in the early stages.

Summerland United Church could have around 17 units built on their land in a four or five storey complex, and they plan to apply for government subsidies at the start of the new fiscal year in April.

The Alliance Church is also planning for housing on their acreage.

Lastly, representatives from Valley Vista Eco Villages presented a vision of a co-housing community in Summerland, in which residents work together to plan the layout of their shared community spaces.

Dean Strachan, director of development services with the District of Summerland, said more diversity in the types of housing available in Summerland is key, but the task of making housing accessible to all is not without its challenges.

"It's like opening up a 1,000-piece puzzle. You gotta start in one corner and work your way forward," Strachan said. "There are lots of new ideas being considered, we just need to get that into actually being built. And that’s a real challenge."


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