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Denman, Hornby islands face affordable housing challenges

Groups appeal to Comox Valley Regional District for assistance
File photo of co-op housing.

Several groups trying to create affordable housing on Denman and Hornby Islands are appealing to the Comox Valley Regional District for assistance.

The Hornby Island Housing Society, in conjunction with M’akola Housing, continues to inch forward in its efforts to develop Beulah Creek, a low-cost rental housing project.

“We have a huge opportunity for expansion of community housing,” society president JoAnn Harrison said at the Sept. 19 Electoral Area Services Committee meeting. “The land adjacent to the Elder Village (11 units) is available for purchase. Funding is the issue. Capital support would be needed.”

In 2018, the province and BC Housing committed $2.6 million to the society to build 26 townhouses and duplexes for families, seniors and workers. Earlier this year, the CVRD board approved $100,000 to help move Beulah Creek forward.

READ: Hornby Island receives money to build affordable homes

Harrison said Hornby has struggled to sustain itself in recent years.

“The popularity of the island for secondary vacation homes has driven housing prices into the stratosphere,” she said, noting the challenges of zoning constraints and high construction costs.

The society hopes to develop a housing strategy to provide direction for co-ordinated action, but this also requires money.

•The Denman Housing Association also needs help to move forward with the Denman Green proposal.

Denman Green is a 20-unit affordable housing project designed to accommodate 49 people. The association has found a central site that is compact, which will keep development costs relatively low.

“We have raised over $60,000 privately on Denman, and believe we can reach $100,000 this year,” Simon Palmer said to directors. “We are bringing equity in terms of land value of the site estimated at $650,000 to the project. We are exploring other funding sources also, but we require your assistance for Denman Green to become a reality.”

The association is asking for a one-time contribution of $100,000 to help with costs.

•The Denman Community Land Trust Association is trying to create secure housing for low-income earners and for those on fixed incomes.

The group’s focus is the Pepper Lane project for low-income seniors. It hopes to build four duplexes on a two-acre site on ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) land.

“We’re very much ready to go,” association co-chair Stephanie Slater said. “We have five covenants that are being placed on the land.”

At the Sept. 20 board meeting, directors voted to refer a report, Affordable Housing Support and Development Opportunities on Denman and Hornby Islands, to the board’s 2023 strategic planning process.

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