It’s a creative approach to building affordable housing.
A mixed-use development project is the subject of a rezoning application at Chilliwack city hall this week with an eye to building an “urban village” with 80 units.
Council has introduction and first reading set to go on Tuesday afternoon for the rezoning at 45603 Yale Road, behind the Canton Garden.
Applicant Mamele’awt Qweesome Housing Society authority is pursuing the rezoning for its Urban Village project “to create a walkable residential/mixed-use development that will increase the stock of quality, affordable housing in Chilliwack for low-income families and singles,” according to the city staff report.
The model, in partnership potentially with BC Housing, features close-to-market residential rentals and commercial leases that would “cross subsidize” the more affordable units in the Urban Village, which could be offered at shelter rental rates.
“It’s the way of the future,” said Margaret Pfoh, chief executive officer of Mamele’awt Qweesome Housing Society.
The days of 100 per cent subsidization are gone, she said.
Their vision is “fairly unique” but also fitting since the province of B.C. has become a leader and an innovator in housing provision, giving the providers the “flexibility and the latitude” to meet the needs of clients in creative ways.
“By providing a range of affordability, the Urban Village will provide housing along the housing continuum from market housing through to moderate income, to affordable housing,” according to the staff report.
Some commercial/retail space on the bottom will also bring services and amenities to tenants and surrounding residents.
The exact rental breakdown of residential to commercial/retail is yet to be determined in the concept refinement stage.
“The current zoning is Commercial-Industrial (CSM), and the OCP designates this site as a Comprehensive
Development Area (CDA), which supports comprehensive neighbourhood planning for major
developments, especially those involving mixed land uses and built-forms.
The site is just south of the former UFV campus site, which is being developed at MidTown with a mix
of apartments, townhouses, and small-lot single family homes. There is also a 220-unit residential condo
development just south of the site. Access is through an entrance between two commercial businesses.
The Chilliwack River along the west side will require a riparian buffer of 30 metres.
The MQHS is a non-profit urban aboriginal housing society that owns and manages rental units for “low and moderate-income aboriginal elders, special needs individuals and family clients, predominantly focused on support for aboriginal people” in Abbotsford, Agassiz, Chilliwack, Harrison, Hope, Mission, and Yarrow.
Chilliwack could be in line for some of the recently announced provincial funding for homelessness but it’s too early to know which local projects will be moving forward.