Construction is underway on a new 82-unit rental housing facility on Sooke Road.
Located in the Colwood Lakes neighbourhood at 2006 Sooke Rd., the homes are for families, seniors and people with disabilities.
An announcement Friday at the site was to celebrate the ground breaking for the project, although the official ground breaking took place in January. Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean was in attendance as well as Dean Fortin, Pacifica Housing executive director, and Mayor Carol Hamilton in addition to other Pacifica board members and project representatives.
The province is investing roughly $1.9 billion over 10 years to build affordable housing for B.C. renters, which is being accomplished through the new Building B.C. Community Housing fund that was launched earlier this week.
Housing B.C. partnered with Pacifica Housing and the City of Colwood to build Helios, an 82-unit project that is replacing 12 units from the old co-op housing and will serve low to moderate income families.
It’s wood-frame construction and will stand four storeys high.
Dean said the province is providing $8.4 million for the project in capital funding.
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“As we all know housing affordability affects us all, and for far too long B.C.’s housing crisis was ignored while British Columbians have suffered,” Dean said. She also said the increase in housing and rental prices has been damaging to communities and even people who earn a decent income are struggling to get ahead and find housing they can afford.
The province is also contributing an additional $10.2 million in construction financing.
The City of Colwood has contributed $328,000 to the project through the affordable housing reserve fund.
Jesse Margolus, development co-ordinator at Pacifica Housing Advisory Association, confirmed there is a demand to get a spot in the building and for affordable housing in general.
“We have a large waiting list for all of our rental buildings actually, and even at Oak Park and Helios we have a wait list and it’s not even constructed yet,” Margolus said.
Townline Housing Solutions is the general contractor for the project, and Margolus said Pacifica is thrilled to be working with them on yet another project.
Lauren Antifeau, development manager at Townline Group of Companies, noted Low Hammond Rowe Architects have designed the building and the principal of the building is Paul Hammond.
“Hammond has done a great job designing a building that speaks to the community and it’s been reviewed by City and council and the mayor,” Antifeau said. “They’ve all provided positive feedback so we’re really excited to move forward with a design that’s compatible with the neighbourhood.”
Pacifica President Deborah George said building Helios is about more than just providing affordable housing, it’s about creating a sense of community. She discussed the second mandate of the organization to help tenants take the next step in life and she read a success story in a statement written by a tenant.
“Without Pacifica, I do not know where I would be. After leaving my son’s father I had no place to go and I was so scared I would not be able to afford a place that was safe. It wasn’t until I was given a place in Pacifica that I started to believe that everything was going to be okay. Having a safe and affordable home to live in and raise my son has meant the world to me. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without your agency, thank you so much,” she read.
Helios has units ranging from studio suites to three bedroom apartments, with an estimated rental rate of $825 per month for a studio up to $1,575 a month for a three bedroom.
Pacifica Housing will operate the building and it will include sidewalks, a playground and community gardens. It is expected to be finished by next summer.