After five years of planning, ground is expected to be broken in September on an affordable housing project in Fruitvale.
The project is a partnership between BC Housing, the Village of Fruitvale, and the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society, and will go on the 3.7-hectare property that was once home to the local middle school.
Mayor Steve Morisette said constructing drawings are now being prepared for the first phase of the project, which will see a three-storey apartment building go up between the still-standing but long shuttered school and Columbia Gardens Road.
It will consist of 31 units, made up of a variety of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units.
Morisette said the project is very similar to the Rossland Yards development, now nearing completion. While it is largely driven by the housing society, the village is providing the land, a 60-year lease, and seven years worth of tax exemptions.
The provincial government has also provided funding for a 37-seat daycare. Morisette said multifamily housing will also be developed on another lot.
He added there have been no particular delays, but it has been a complicated process.
“Creating a plan for the site, showing BC Housing that we are prepared and ready for a complex like this, planning for infrastructure to service it, all these things take time,” he said.
“Lots of meetings, lots of lobbying. To get to this point took a lot of background work. We’re finally there, so it’s really exciting to see both these projects go ahead this year.”
Kootenay Savings recently donated $10,000 toward the project’s development, which Morisette said also has support from the Columbia Basin Trust and other organizations.
“It’s really a community project and we’re excited to provide people with some affordable housing,” he said.
“Some people have expressed they’re scared it’s going to be some sort of slum, but that’s not the case. The housing society is very strict on how they manage these places and it’s people that need housing but can’t afford it.”
Morisette said one-third of the units will come with a “deep subsidy” from the provincial government, one-third with a partial subsidy, and one-third will be at market rates.