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Affordable housing development proposed for Summerland

Chamber raises concerns about effects of 60-unit complex in downtown
A proposed development on Henry Avenue in Summerland would house the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre as well as 60 units of housing. (District of Summerland image)

A proposed development on Henry Avenue in Summerland would house the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre as well as 60 units of affordable housing in a five-storey building.

The proposal, for 13204 and 13214 Henry Ave., is scheduled to come to Summerland council on Feb. 27. One of the lots houses the Summerland United Church, while the other is a vacant property.

The project comes from Turning Points Collaborative Society, which is working with the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre.

The proposal is for affordable housing. It is not an emergency shelter, an additional treatment site or housing with support services on site, which the society has built or operated elsewhere.

For 42 of the units, the rent rate would be based on the income of the tenant, while the remaining 18 units would be rented at the low end of the market rate. The building would be suitable for seniors, families and people with disabilities, Turning Points said.

“There is a lack of family housing in Summerland, and no housing sites that support this combined demographic,” a Turning Points presentation states.

Additional affordable housing has been identified by the municipality of Summerland as a critical need for the community.

Turning Points hopes to have construction of the facility begin in late fall.

Brad Dollevoet, director of development services for Summerland, said a variance would be required for this building since the proposal calls for five storeys, but the zoning at present is four storeys. The applicants are also asking for changes to the parking requirements.

In late January, the proposal was presented to the municipality’s Advisory Planning Commission. One of the comments at that meeting was that the project is well designed and would add vibrancy to Summerland’s downtown.

Minor concerns were raised about the height of the building, as well as parking concerns with the proposed development.

Prior to the council meeting, the Summerland Chamber of Commerce distributed a letter to business owners in downtown Summerland, raising concerns about the proposal.

The letter notes that Turning Points operates addiction recovery centres, halfway houses, homeless shelters and other similar facilities.

“Summerland has no resources (no hospital, no psychiatric beds, no social welfare agency, no safe injection site etc.) to handle the problems associated with the clientele that Turning Points customarily works with,” the chamber board’s letter stated.

The board is asking for control mechanisms to prevent affordable housing from becoming anything other than long-term housing for families and individuals capable of paying rent and taking care of themselves.

“Council’s decision on this matter will set the tone of our downtown for many years to come,” the letter stated.

However, Dollevoet said the proposal is for housing, not for a homeless shelter, recovery centre or halfway house.

The proposal would require approval from BC Housing.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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