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Castlegar seeks BC Housing dollars for major projects

The City of Castlegar will support requests for provincial funding for a couple of major housing projects.

City council this week agreed to write letters of support to the Lu’ma Native Housing Society for two applications to separate funds.

The first would be through the community housing fund for the primary care and housing project proposed for the site of the Pioneer Arena that would provide up to 60 units of non-market housing.

The other would be through an Indigenous housing fund for the planned downtown art gallery and housing project on the site of the Eremenko block at Columbia Avenue and 3rd Street that would provide up to another 48 units.

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The first project will be submitted to a program that has an intake deadline of Nov. 17 and is open to non-profit and municipal housing providers. Because the city doesn’t have its own housing entity, it partnered with Lu’ma Native Housing Society to operate both projects.

The city is providing the land under long-term lease and waiving development charges.

The primary care and housing project involves a memorandum between the city, Lu’ma, Castlegar physicians, Prima Health, and Axis Development. It calls for four commercial rental units on the ground floor fronting Columbia Avenue with medical offices and housing on the upper storeys accessed from 9th Street.

According to a staff report, the tentative configuration would see three studio apartments, eight one-bedroom apartments, and six two-bedroom apartments per floor.

The art gallery project is a partnership between the city, Lu’ma and the Kootenay Gallery to develop another mixed use building downtown. The gallery would front on Columbia Avenue and the housing would be accessed from Third Street.

Both projects would see existing buildings on the sites torn down.

Originally both projects were going to be submitted to the community housing fund, but city planning manager Meeri Durand explained the primary care and housing project will instead be forward to that fund and the other will await a different stream.

“It’s very unlikely that BC Housing would award funding to two projects under the same intake in the same community,” she told council this week.

“So in terms of competitive advantage, we’re taking the strongest and most ready proposal forward to the community housing fund and will delay the other project until the Indigenous housing intake is ready, which allows for more preliminary design work.”

The city expects to hear back on the first funding application in the spring. The intake for the second fund is expected to open in a few weeks.

Castlegar is also seeking up to $6 million in a federal grant to help narrow the gap in the city’s housing needs. A recent report found Castlegar needs another 464 units by 2026 to keep pace with demand.

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