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New 90-unit affordable rental building opens its doors in North Vancouver

Most of the 90 units in the building, located near the Phibbs Exchange transit hub, are offered at discounted rents

Homes in a new affordable rental building in North Vancouver are filling fast.

Located a stone’s throw from the bustling Phibbs Exchange transit hub, the recently completed development at 267 Orwell St. has begun to welcome tenants.

The 90-unit Salal Apartments building had been under construction following a proposal process that first went to District of North Vancouver council in June 2020.

At a press event on Wednesday, B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma, and DNV Mayor Mike Little were there to speak to the public.

Kahlon lauded the project for its mix of new homes: 20 per cent at “deeply affordable rents” between $375 and $625 per month, 50 per cent where rent is geared to 30 per cent of a tenant’s income, and the remaining 30 per cent at market rates.

The six-storey wood frame building is owned and operated by Sanford Affordable Housing Society. Inside, there are there are 52 one-bedroom units, 27 two-bedroom units and 11 three-bedroom units.

“This is the type of housing we want to see in communities throughout the province,” Kahlon said. “Affordable housing next to transit so that people can use our public services and as well enjoy the amenities that the community has to provide.”

Through BC Housing, the province provided around $9.5 million to build the project, and will contribute $415,000 annually for operational costs. The district provided the land, valued at $8.3 million, along with cost charge waivers of $1.6 million.

Amenity cost charges to be waived for non-profits across B.C.

Kahlon added that new regulations mean non-profits won’t be charged amenity cost charges – a tool to help local governments cover the cost of infrastructure needed to facilitate new development.

“No longer will not-for-profits have to beg local governments to waive ACCs,” he said.

“That’s not a challenge for the District of North Vancouver, which has been a fantastic partner, and they’ve already waived fees for projects like this and many others,” Kahlon said. “But this will now be a standard for all not-for-profit projects being built in communities throughout the province.”

Little said the vision for the surrounding community began with a planning process that started 15 years ago.

“We knew that we had an opportunity with a flat, walkable neighbourhood, great accessibility, a close connection to TransLink and the Phibbs Exchange facility, so we wanted to make sure that we absolutely took advantage of this area,” he said.

“A big part of that was making sure that as we built out the neighbourhood, we created not only a variety of market-driven options, but also making sure that there were different sizes and tenures available so that people throughout the marketplace could live in this space, and take advantage of this amazing neighbourhood.”

There are currently more than 1,300 units of provincially funded affordable housing completed or under development on the North Shore, in addition to 350 student beds coming to Capilano University, Ma said.

“The challenges that brought us to this place where we are faced with a housing crisis … did not develop overnight. It was as a result of many, many different factors. And so it can’t be solved overnight,” she said.

"But the kind of actions that our government is taking in partnership with partners, some of whom you’ve heard from today, are what is going to move the dial we need to continue this work,” Ma said.

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