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Addressing Revelstoke’s housing shortage

Council looks at increasing the non-market housing sector
Revelstoke’s downtown core, as seen from Track St. (Revelstoke Review)

Like many B.C. communities, Revelstoke is facing a shortage of housing. Plans to address that are underway.

At the May 14 meeting, city council unanimously endorsed, in principle, a Housing Solutions Project recommendation resulting from a study by consultants M’akola Development Services.

First brought forward to council in 2023, Paul Simon, Director of Development Services, advised council that there were a number of options on how the city can increase its involvement in the non-market housing sector in order to have enough housing available for all residents.

Simon introduced Sandy Mackay, M’akola housing research and policy lead of the non-profit housing, planning, consulting and affordable housing organization working throughout BC.

Via Zoom, Mackay described his report to council as the concluding piece of the Revelstoke Housing Entity study, which is part of the broader Housing Solutions Project, which has been run by staff since last fall.

Mackay presented four options, with the recommendation that council opt for a capital funder model in which the city provides project-oriented financial support for non-market, affordable housing on a project-to-project basis.

“There is no expectation for a return,” said Mackay of the recommended option. “ The project and its benefit to the community is the return.”

“Model 1” was also identified as the preferred model by the Revelstoke non-profit sector as it enables an existing society to build its internal capacity.

“The project team recommends that the City of Revelstoke formalize its relationship with the Revelstoke Community Housing Society (RCHS) and explore ongoing funding options to build administrative, operations, property management and staff and board capacity,” noted Mackay. “The goal of the funding is to “scale up” the society so it can take on larger development projects.”

In his May 14 staff report to the board, Simon asked councillors to endorse the recommendation in principle, subject to the following steps: the Revelstoke Community Housing Society provides a business plan detailing a strategy to scale their operations, and the amount of financial support and duration

of financial support that is requested from the city by no later than Aug. 31; upon receipt of a business plan, city staff review and bring forward for council consideration as part of budget deliberations for 2025; and as part of budget deliberations for 2025, council considers the funding request made by the Revelstoke Community Housing Society and prioritize against all budget requests to ensure the city is considering the impact on the ‘big picture’ prior to approval.

When asked by Coun. Aaron Orlando if RCHS was capable of meeting requirements, Sheena Wells, Revelstoke Community Housing Society Co-Chair, pointed out the organization is 18 months into a two-year strategic plan and having met the goals is ready to develop a new strategic plan and business plan .

“Our primary goal is to have capacity and the administrative function to be able to scale up,” she said, noting RCHS has been working alongside the City of Revelstoke in order to be successful. “In the fall we put forward a three- to five-year operations budget for how we would get from here to sustaining operations ourselves.”

In response to a timing question from Coun. Matt Cherry, Simon pointed out the goal is to have the business plan vetted by the chief administrative officer, corporate officer, director of finance, engineering and planning to make sure that everyone at the city is supportive in time for 2025 budget deliberations.

In the meantime, Mayor Gary Sulz invited Ravi Kahlon, Minister of BC Housing to visit Revelstoke to learn about the strides the city has made and continues to make in the pursuit of increasing the amount and variety of housing available.

“I am proud of am proud of the work we have accomplished and consider Revelstoke to be a leader in BC as it relates to addressing the housing crisis,” wrote Sulz in his May 2 letter, which included some of the work that has been completed.

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