It is not clear yet when a large residential complex that includes supportive housing will open in Central Saanich as the project grapples with delays and changing cost figures, among other uncertainties.
Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor said he appreciates and shares the concerns of the broader public on the Prosser Road site. “It’s very complex and most people look at it in a certain way without appreciating that there are lots of nuances. Certainly, we (council) are familiar of some of these nuances because we live and breathe them frequently. But it is an incredibly frustrating process and because it has now consumed much more time than was originally anticipated, it has become increasingly frustrating to not know what you don’t know.”
As evident by another letter from the public before Central Saanich council during the last meeting of its term, the public continues to have questions about the project. “And it’s entirely fair that they do,” Windsor said. “The ministry has to come to grips that they do have to say to the community that ‘there is more here’ and I don’t envy the position that they are in because it is very complex.”
Factors cited for the delay in construction include inflation, rising interest rates, and supply chain challenges, according to a statement from the ministry of the attorney general, responsible for relaying responses from BC Housing.
Developments currently underway on the site consist of a 51-unit affordable housing project with 41 units aimed at individuals with moderate-to-low incomes with the remaining 10 units rented at the provincial income assistance rate. This affordable housing project will co-exist next to a 39-unit supportive housing project for people experiencing homelessness.
BC Housing announced earlier this week that it is working with West Urban Developments on an updated timeline and budget for the 51-unit project following an inquiry by Black Press Media. The initial announcement in late spring 2021 had pegged the total project cost at $17 million and identified spring 2022 as the completion date, with the Capital Regional District having cited July 2022 as the occupancy date.
The Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) will operate the affordable housing project with CRHC and BC Housing having agreed to purchase the affordable rental housing project as part of the Regional Housing First Program.
As for the supportive housing project, the statement noted the provincial government is now in the process of finalizing the purchase of the building with the confirmed cost announced once the purchase has been completed. The statement pegged the provincial contribution toward the project at $9.4 million, as it announced in March 2021.
Equally uncertain is the identity of the operator for the supportive housing component. “Once a purchase agreement has been signed, we will look to announce the operator,” read the statement. “This will take place once we get closer to opening these new homes.”
The immediate question of who will operate the supportive housing project co-exists with longer-standing questions about whether individuals staying there will receive the necessary support.
Central Saanich council last year signalled the province that the community lacks the necessary resources itself and neighbours living near the site fear spill-over effects. This said, other residents have also sent welcoming signals.
“As with any new provincially funded supportive housing project, BC Housing will work closely with the non-profit housing provider to ensure that residents are successfully integrated into the community and receive appropriate, individualized supports,” read the statement from BC Housing.
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