The proposed development for Maitland Street Village. (SCREENSHOT)

Affordable rentals coming to Port Alberni

Construction is expected to start in September and homes are expected to open in Fall 2021

Construction is set to start on nearly 50 new rental homes for families and seniors in Port Alberni.

During a council meeting on Monday, Aug. 10, Port Alberni city council approved a development permit for Alberni Low Energy Housing Society. Their project, located on Maitland Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, will be a four-storey, multi-family residential building. The land is part of the same field where the new Port Alberni Shelter is located.

The province has provided $4.6 million to this new project, and will provide up to $200,000 in annual operating funding.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Maitland Street Village will be a 46-unit apartment building for families and seniors, ranging from those on income assistance to those with incomes up to $113,040. The development will provide one-, two- and three-bedroom homes. Monthly rents will be a mix of subsidized and affordable market rents, with rents projected to range from $375 to $1,250 a month. The building will be owned and operated by Alberni Low Energy Housing Society.

The Alberni Low Energy Housing Society is focused on developing low-energy housing and this new building will aim to meet the energy efficiency requirements necessary to achieve a passive house certification. Passive house buildings consume up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings, dramatically reducing operating costs.

“The board of the Alberni Low Energy Housing Society is extremely pleased to provide highly energy efficient and superior quality housing for people with financial challenges,” said Mike Ruttan, board chair of the Alberni Low Energy Housing Society, in a press release. “This project will be for the whole range of demographics within our city: seniors, youth, children and families.”

Construction is expected to start in September and the homes are expected to open in Fall 2021.

During the council meeting on Aug. 10, Ruttan requested that the city waive building permit fees for Maitland Street Village. Building permit fees total $29,474, and additional development cost charges will cost $219,739,24, said city planner Katelyn McDougall. A 50 percent waiver has already been applied for development costs. City council did not make a commitment to waive the other fees.

During a previous public hearing about the development, nearby residents brought up concerns about a lack of parking in the area. David Simpson, the architect for the project, said that he does not anticipate a problem.

“Generally we find that…these residents do not have the need for cars or the ability to provide cars that the typical neighbourhood has,” Simpson said on Aug. 10. “What we’re asking for is fairly consistent in what we see in other projects. There is a lot of streetfront parking on this site.”

In response to this project, council directed city staff to review some of the city’s guidelines around parking variances and open space when it comes to new developments.

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