Three of four BC Housing projects underway in town should be complete by Fall 2022.
“Affordable housing continues to be a priority across B.C. and there is a need to create more safe and secure rental housing options in communities like Revelstoke,” said Sophie Gray, senior communications advisor for BC Housing.
Two buildings bought by BC Housing in 2019 are currently being renovated: the 44-unit Rivers Edge apartment building at 1211 Front St. and the 73-unit Columbia Gardens apartment building at 1949 LaForme Blvd.
Renovations on Rivers Edge were scheduled to be complete at the end of September 2020, however the deadline has now been extended. B.C. housing said this is due to delayed material deliveries because of COVID-19 as well as unforeseen building upgrades.
On March 22, residents of Rivers Edge where informed that phase one of interior renovations were nearly complete. The site is currently undergoing exterior renovations.
Work at Columbia Gardens was also impacted by COVID-19 and a need for additional work.
Water proofing upgrades to the building began on April 26. Other improvements to the building include mechanical, electrical and interior renovations.
BC Housing said that renovations for both buildings will be complete fall 2022.
“BC Housing is currently working to find appropriate, local, non-profit housing providers to develop a partnership and long-term management plan for these two sites,” said Gray.
Until then they will be managed by Revelstoke Property Services.
Residents have expressed concerns regarding the affordability of housing, as rates in the Columbia Gardens are set to increase. The new rents are proposed at $1,350 for a one bedroom, $1,450 for a two bedroom or $1,900 for a three bedroom.
“I wouldn’t be able to pay those rates, I would be homeless,” said Peter Blackmore, local artist and resident of Columbia Gardens.
However, residents were told that those staying were entitled to remain and that their rents would not be increased. Residents wishing to move to a renovated suit would be subjected to the new rents.
Blackmore explained that the rental rates currently paid by tenants varied, his however, if he were to move to a renovated one bed room apartment, would increase by roughly 40 per cent.
Tenants were worried that inevitability having to move, while their aged and run down apartments were renovated, would result in having to pay the quoted rents for a renovated room.
BC Housing however responded, saying, “Some of these currently occupied units still require extensive repairs and, as a result, some residents may have to eventually, temporarily relocate until the renovations of their units are done. Their rents will not be affected by a temporary relocation or when they move back into their renovated unit.”
The units at both sites will be designated to middle-income families and individuals.
The third of the four developments, are the 24 affordable rental homes at 297 Humbert St. Upon its completion, the properties are to be managed by The Revelstoke Housing Society.
“It is coming along well, we are on track at the moment for it to be ready in the spring,” said a spokesperson for the housing society.
Currently, rents are unfinalised, however it is designated low-income, affordable housing. The society said they are aiming at below market price, with potential to gear rents to income.
“We are trying to identify who in the community needs it the most and making sure they have accommodation and we hope to work with other organizations to identify the people who need it the most,” said Rosie Denton, representative for the RCHS.
The units are all studio and one bedroom apartments and will most likely cater to low-income individuals and couples.
The fourth project is the proposed multi-story, affordable housing complex at the old Mt Begbie school site at 420 Downie St.
The complex is proposed to have 174 affordable units, however construction has yet to commence. An application to amend the city’s zoning and Official Community Plan was submitted on May 13. BC Housing anticipates the application to go to city council for review in fall 2021.
BC Housing is still open to community feedback regarding the project and is asking for all comments to be submitted before Aug. 27, to be included as part of their submission to city council.