UPDATE RE PEPPER LANE SENIORS AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT
A message from DCLTA Co-Chairs Stephanie Slater and Doug Olstead
We regret to have to inform the community that we will not be able to complete the Pepper Lane Seniors Affordable Housing Project at the proposed location on Denman Road (behind the Denman Island Guest House).
The DCLTA has achieved a number of notable successes since starting this project in 2014. (See Project Milestones). However, more than eight years is a long time and it has taken a toll on the owner of the land. She is no longer willing to wait for us to secure a commitment for full construction financing.
Our land purchase agreement requires that such a commitment be in place by Dec. 31, 2022 – that is, an indication of forthcoming financial support for the project is required for the land purchase to proceed. This was one of the changes made when the agreement was re-negotiated in August, 2021. The primary purpose of the new agreement was to increase the purchase price from $100,000 to $130,000 in recognition of the increase in land prices since the initiation of the project.
The DCLTA board was willing to waive the financing condition following promising discussions with major funders BC Housing and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. These discussions revealed the incremental nature of funding for affordable housing, with securing land as the first step (CMHC, for example, requires land ownership as a condition of funding). However, with no firm date for a full funding commitment, the landowner is unwilling to waive this condition or extend the purchase agreement upon expiry at the end of this year.
We thank the Denman Island community for your generous support for this project and we promise to keep going. We have already started to look for another suitable property for our project (and welcome any suggestions about this).
Affordable seniors housing is a necessity for our community and although this is a disappointing setback, we will persevere. We are not only committed but optimistic about our prospects. We now have valuable experience and positive relationships with important government partners and potential funders. We feel the time is right because the necessity of creating affordable housing is now seen as an imperative by governments at all levels.
Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at email@example.com
Project Milestones – Seniors Affordable Housing
Without construction underway, it can be easy to overlook the fact that considerable progress has been achieved in the DCLTA’s effort to establish seniors affordable housing on Denman Island. Key accomplishments in the Pepper Lane project include the following:
- Exemption of the proposed project site from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), including the first use of land density credits on Denman Island
- Housing Agreement with Islands Trust adopted (sets out tenant criteria and rent formula)
- Affordable Housing land use bylaw for the property adopted by Islands Trust and approved by the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs
- Community fundraising of $170,000, including $130,000 to pay for the property
- Purchase of the laneway to the property
- Design of a septic treatment system
- Installation of a drilled well (and years of monitoring water supply)
- Emergency access approval
- BC Hydro right-of-way negotiated
- Completion of the strata plan, covenant plan, and topographic survey
- Design of the stormwater management plan
- Invasive species removal and site clean-up
- Some fencing and planting
- Business plan developed (two drafts now)
- Reports on needs assessment; sustainable energy; and water management
- Consultations with groups representing potential tenants and housing and health advocates
- Design of the structures
- Engagement of a project manager
- Consultations with BC Housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and other potential funders
- Contracts in place with various professionals who were to be engaged when the property was secured
- Expansion of the DCLTA board to guide the project (including a former Minister of Housing; a former CEO of multiple affordable housing projects; and others with lengthy experience in law, engineering, management consulting, etc.)
- Briefing of B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie
While most of this work is specific to the original proposed site, some of it is transferable and all of it has contributed to our organization’s knowledge and experience. Although the Pepper Lane property is no longer available, the DCLTA’s board members are encouraged by the numerous regulatory and other obstacles we have overcome and we are confident our experience will enable us to achieve the creation of affordable seniors housing on this island.
Property Wanted – Can You Help?
The DCLTA is now actively searching for a property that is:
- On or close to a main road and ideally close to the village to facilitate relatively easy access to amenities such as shopping, the health centre, activity centre, food services and entertainment.
- Physically accessible – relatively flat is ideal; easily drained with ditching if necessary.
The property could be in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and/or could require subdividing. For example, our originally proposed site was two acres to be subdivided from a four-acre lot – all of which was designated in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The Agricultural Land Commission approved removing the two acres from the ALR and the Islands Trust created new Affordable Housing zoning to ensure the property would only be used for this purpose (and could not be “flipped” for profit, for example). The DCLTA is also willing to consider properties that have an existing house on them.
If you have a property you think would be suitable, or know of one, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact one of our co-chairs: Stephanie Slater (250.335.3339) or Doug Olstead (250.335.0351)