Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Affordable Housing Project: Land Donation Approved

What an exciting Council meeting last night--we passed a motion to donate a piece of Town-owned land towards an affordable housing project. The proposal is being spearheaded by the North Peace Housing Foundation and the Town of Peace River and the application to the province for funding will now be submitted for the September 19 deadline.

In the spring of 2007, a regional housing coalition (called the North Peace Housing Coalition) was formed to bring attention and action to the dire housing situation that many Peace River and regional residents experience. This group has been an important driver for the project.

It was a sub-committee of the coalition (Tanya Bell from the Town, Richard Walisser from the Foundation, and myself) that did the developmental work on the proposal.

This Peace River project is just that much more feasible because land does not have to be purchased. Now the money received by the Town from the province for affordable housing (about $430,000) can go towards construction and will help keep it affordable.

There's a downside to the land donation, however, as there often is with big decisions. There were few choices because the Town owns so little land. If the project receives funding and goes ahead, we'll lose our BMX track.

The track is not well used and the property is an R3 district, which means high-density housing can be constructed. So despite the loss of a recreation area, it seemed like the best of very few options. (I'm going to do a separate blog entry in the next few days about the ideas for other locations for the project that residents brought forward during the consultation.)

Many thanks to all the people who took the time to come out to the open house sessions and to fill out the online survey (123 of you; 115 finishing the whole thing). The discussions and survey feedback were very valuable to our committee and to Council.

If we'd had more time (the project really just started to coalesce over the summer), we could have provided more notice and print copies of the survey for residents who aren't comfortable with computers. Despite the short notice, though, we got an excellent response from a fairly wide variety of people, including business owners/managers (perhaps because the other proposed location was downtown), seniors, and people living on low income or who once lived on low income.

The application for funding will now go into the province. Fingers crossed it is viewed favourably and there will be a sod turning in the spring!

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