The City of Courtenay is partnering with the Community Land Trust Group of Societies in hopes of securing funding for a new model of housing. Submitted photo

The City of Courtenay is partnering with the Community Land Trust Group of Societies in hopes of securing funding for a new model of housing. Submitted photo

Courtenay, Land Trust partner on co-op housing applications

The City of Courtenay is partnering with the Community Land Trust Group of Societies in hopes of securing funding for a new model of housing in the community. If successful, it could lead to the first development of its kind in the North Island.

They are applying to BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund program with proposals for three city-owned sites as potential locations for housing co-operatives (co-ops):

•152 1st St: vacant land and partial laneway

645 – 725 Cliffe Ave: the Connect Warming Centre building and adjacent parking

425 Duncan Ave: 4th Street and Duncan Avenue parking lot

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells said the applications are in response to a critical need for more housing options.

“So many people have told me how hard it has become to find stable and attainable housing in the Comox Valley, and it’s frankly heartbreaking,” said Wells. “These are our community’s health care workers, our teachers, store clerks, friends and neighbours – having a full-time job doesn’t guarantee being able to afford a roof over their heads anymore. They need help, stability, and hope for the future. We also want to support our local merchants; this past year has been especially challenging for small businesses with the impacts of COVID. More housing in and around the downtown core means more people shopping and dining, and helps our downtown stay vibrant.

“We hope that at least one of these co-op housing applications will be successful so we can pursue this idea further, with lots of input from our community.”

The co-op housing applications are just the first steps of a lengthy and comprehensive process. If any of the applications are approved, Courtenay and the Community Land Trust would launch extensive public engagement efforts with stakeholders, community groups, and the public to identify needs and opportunities at and around each site.

Co-op housing is typically longer-term and more stable compared to rental housing. Courtenay’s applications propose a mix of affordability levels and unit types for low and middle-incomes.

“Community Land Trust is excited to have a municipal partner like the City of Courtenay who is passionate and committed to affordable housing for their residents,” said executive director Tiffany Duzita. “When we learn of communities looking for alternate forms of housing, we know that co-ops can provide something really special that is not often found in market or non-profit rental. They provide a place for people to call home and an opportunity to be actively involved in the governance of their co-op. We are hopeful with our applications to the Province to be able to advance these opportunities further, so we can begin to engage with the Courtenay community to help plan the future of affordable housing in their city.”

The three proposed locations in Courtenay were chosen following a detailed analysis of all city-owned properties with redevelopment potential for affordable housing. Each site was scored based on a number of criteria, including proximity to schools, parks, services, and community amenities, as well as size, and potential space for a community need or market retail. Any development would be managed by the Community Land Trust under a long-term lease agreement on land owned by the City of Courtenay.

Co-op housing is a “community with intent”. Co-ops are neither individually owned, nor are they rentals. They are made up of people who work together to provide safe, secure, and affordable homes for their members.

Community Land Trust is a non-profit, social-purpose real estate developer and asset steward, created by the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC. Community Land Trust creates and preserves opportunities in B.C. for low and moderate income households to enjoy stable, quality housing at a fair price, with developments that include a mix of residential, retail, and community space. To view their portfolio of projects in other communities, visit www.cltrust.ca