Funding in works to assist Comox Valley housing

Courtenay council and the regional district have tabled an approximate $12,000 "bridge funding" request from the Comox Valley Housing Task Force to ensure progress of local homelessness and housing matters.

Money would also help the organization transition to the next governance entity.

The group hosted the recent Building Housing Solutions Together event and a 2013 affordable housing forum attended by various professionals, politicians and stakeholders.

The task force recommends the regional district establish a service to collect funds regionally to address affordable housing and homelessness. Within the service, it hopes a local government, non-profit corporation can be established to fulfill the service mandate.

The idea is to have one voice for funders in an effort to resolve the local homelessness and affordable housing crisis. The arms-length organization would be able to perform functions beyond the scope of the CVRD.

Courtenay Coun. Starr Winchester, who questions the wisdom of forming another level of bureaucracy, said the City does not have the money to support further forums.

"People are tired of committees and studies," Coun. Manno Theos said.

He noted a possible duplication of services, referring to social planning consultant John Jessup, who is preparing a request for proposal for a supportive housing complex at Braidwood Road in East Courtenay.

Tuesday at regional district committee of the whole, Coun. Jon Ambler said the status quo is not working but suggests the CVRD is not ready to make a decision until Braidwood and other projects can "inform this debate."

The committee approved a motion from Comox director Ken Grant to defer for a year while exploring a public, non-profit model. Area B director Jim Gillis was opposed, noting the importance of the housing continuum. Ambler notes the district can revisit the issue earlier than one year.

Staff will report back about the funding request.

• • •

Can a social enterprise supply local food to the Island's new hospitals?

The question was posed by business consultant/marketing specialist Sandra Hamilton, who spoke about a social impact procurement pilot.

By matching supply to demand and by using a seasonally-adjusted menu, Hamilton believes it could be economically viable to introduce a socially innovative local supply chain into the hospitals in Campbell River and Courtenay.

A $75,000 grant application to advance the project will be submitted by month's end.

Council praised Hamilton's efforts.

"I commend you for championing the farmers in the Comox Valley," Winchester said.

Hamilton is seeking a letter of support to Comox Valley MLA Don McRae — the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation — to show the City's interest in the first provincial/municipal pilot of social impact purchasing.

Hamilton has also requested a letter of support from the regional district and matching funds of $75,000 for research. Staff will explore the possibility of providing money through gas tax funding.


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