BY: PAUL J. HENDERSON
Chilliwack’s MLAs and some of city council gathered Monday at a bare site on Yale Road near the old University of the Fraser Valley campus to officially announce the construction of an 80-unit affordable rental housing project.
The money is part of $500 million announced by the provincial government in September to go towards affordable housing across the province.
If the project sounds familiar, it’s because city council approved the rezoning for it on Oct. 4 after a public hearing.
“It’s finally happening,” Mayor Sharon Gaetz said. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would happen.
“I know that we were competing with other communities for this,” she added, crediting the Society for doing “their homework before they came to council.”
Mamele’awt CEO Margaret Pfoh said it was a special day for her organization, lauding the location as particularly apt for the building.
“We want to make best use of the natural environment,” Pfoh said of the site, which is surrounded by trees and two creeks.
Within sight of where the official announcement was made Monday was a small homeless encampment, literally pointing to the urgency of the housing situation in Chilliwack.
To the north of the site, construction carried on at MidTown, a project on 13 acres that will have as many as 42 small-lot single family homes, as many as 150 townhouses and space for a rental apartment building with 80-plus units.
Asked if she was concerned about backlash from neighbours about the project, Pfoh said the group experienced some NIMBYism in Mission but the sense of community they created overcame that.
“Rooted in indigenous culture, the Urban Village will be a fully inclusive development and we look forward to the diverse community that will reside here,” Pfoh said in a press release.
Construction on the project is expected to begin in summer 2017, with completion projected for spring 2019.
The Yale Road project is not the only Chilliwack one to get part of the $500 million. MLAs Martin and Laurie Throness will be at Ruth & Naomi’s Monday evening to announce funding for a 36-unit affordable housing project on Margaret Avenue behind the current mission building.