With construction well underway on Baptist Housing’s newest development in Greater Victoria, a 97-unit seniors rental building in Saanich, the non-profit gave thanks on site Wednesday for government funding that helped make the project a reality.
Federal Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen and Transportation Minister Rob Fleming were on hand to accept those thanks at an event reminding the public that $6 million from the National Housing Co-investment Fund and $10.6 million in provincial money delivered through B.C. Housing are being put toward the new four-storey build at 3200 Linwood Ave.
The affordable aspect of the project will see 30 per cent of the units rented at rates that are 80 per cent of the current market rents for similar units. The exact rents are expected to be set in the new year.
Residents who lived at the previous Linwood Court, who were provided accommodation in other Baptist Housing seniors properties around the region, will be given first option to return. But as organization CEO Marc Kinna said, many have forged new relationships and a new sense of community in their new homes and may choose to stay put.
Helping make the entire building more affordable, many tenants are expected to participate in the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) rent supplement program offered by B.C. Housing, Kinna said, noting the financial elements will also determine whether previous residents come back.
The U-shaped building will offer six different suite configurations, five fully accessible units, a central dining area, activities room and outdoor gardens, along with a 50-space underground parking garage.
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said the Linwood project dovetails nicely into the municipality’s housing strategy, and is especially important as it will provide homes for seniors, some of whom may be financially struggling.
He echoed comments made earlier at the podium about partnerships between governments and the private sector, especially long-term landowners, being key to making such projects a reality.
“It’s by having the land held for many years and bringing in governments – federal, provincial and municipal – to make sure there’s certainty about the building and the financing costs and delivering the most affordable package that we possibly can in this time of housing crisis and crisis of costs,” he said.
Dayle Krahn, vice-president of property maintenance and development for Baptist Housing, said rising materials costs and trades shortages – not to mention COVID outbreaks – have presented challenges for the organization on this project, which got underway last year and saw the original Linwood Court structure come down.
Acknowledging this is a very expensive time to build an affordable housing project, Kinna said contingencies are always built in, and with the pandemic causing supply issues early on in the process, they were able to see some of the issues coming ahead of time.
“We’re just trying to manage it the best we can, like any construction project, our focus is on just getting it finished so that we can open the doors for the seniors we care about, that’s our No. 1 priority,” he said.
Baptist Housing is hoping for a summer 2023 move-in date.
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