Hornby Island is among 42 B.C. communities that will receive government funds to construct new, affordable rental homes.
The Hornby Island Housing Society will receive $2.6 million to build 26 townhouses and duplexes for families, seniors and workers. The project will be called Beulah Creek Village, an 18.5-acre property between the school and the Co-op.
“It’s been so much work for the community for the last 10 years on this project. We’re ecstatic,” said Daniel Arbour, the incoming CVRD Area A director who is involved with the project through the Hornby Island Community Economic Enhancement Corporation (HICEEC). “Our goal was to use that property to address the lack of rentals on the island, and affordable homes. We target mostly workers and young families that live here.”
He notes a 2015 economic plan identified housing as the key priority on Hornby, where about 90 per cent of homes sell to secondary residents.
“It’s a tough trend,” Arbour said. “We’ve been working for a long time to find housing solutions.”
The Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness congratulates those who have worked to ensure Hornby residents have this opportunity.
“When people from all stages of life are safely housed, they are more able to fully engage in the community, and feel a sense of belonging and well-being,” coalition co-ordinator Andrea Cupelli said.
The Building BC: Community Housing Fund is a $1.9-billion investment that will build more than 14,000 affordable rental homes over the next decade. The Hornby project is among 4,900 homes to be built in the next few years. The Province, through BC Housing, selected the first set of projects based on various criteria.
“Things like seniors housing, there’s very little available (on Hornby),” said Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, noting the economic driver of tourism during the busy season. “Getting young people in that can fulfil the employment requirements for that industry, there’s virtually nothing there for them. So it’s to address both the young families, and seniors and workers.”
There remain some details to be negotiated with BC Housing before the Hornby Island Housing Society sees the $2.6 million.
“There’s likely to be a larger chunk, that’s mortgage financing from BC Housing,” said Arbour, who figures the build will take two or three years. “We have to do all the roads, septic, water infrastructure. We’re lucky to take out a big mortgage, which we’ll get paid back as the renters move in.
“We’re going to see a lot of construction (on Hornby),” he added. “We’re just about starting to rebuild our school that burned down…We’re closing in on the building of an art centre as well.”