The province is kicking in $11 million for affordable housing and a seniors respite centre as part of the first phase of a total rebuild of North Shore Neighbourhood House.
Housing Minister Ravi Khalon announced the funding outside the aging facility on Friday morning.
Luke Harrison, president of the non-profit Catalyst Community Developments Society, described the project as a “phoenix risen from the ashes.” A very similar project was slated to be built on the District of North Vancouver’s Delbook Lands, but council rejected it at the last minute in 2018.
The City of North Vancouver swooped in to incorporate the project into the North Shore Neighbourhood House rebuild and rezoned the land in 2021.
But a lot has happened since then.
“Economic volatility and rising interest rates have not been my friend for the last year and not the friend of any rental housing developers,” Harrison said.
The “equity gap” in the business case grew by roughly the amount the province has agreed to put in.
Harrison credited Mayor Linda Buchanan for going to the province and getting the project back on track, with construction now due to start in August.
Khalon said the province agreed to chip in to help turn back the “unacceptable” trend of people being forced to leave their community because of “unreasonable rents.”
“When you have a project that’s so dynamic like this – a respite, childcare, affordable units for people – it just enhances the vibrancy of a community. We have to find ways to get these projects across the line,” he said. “Minister [Bowinn] Ma and I were able to convince our colleagues and in treasury that this needs to happen, and it’s an exciting day.”
The six-storey, mixed-use building will have a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, in which rents will likely start at 15 per per cent below-market rates but come down over time as the non-profit developer’s debt is serviced.
Care BC is paying for their own 18,000-square-foot space, which will provide 25 temporary day and 18 overnight spaces for seniors needing care, allowing their caregivers within their family a chance to rest and recharge.
Inge Schamborzki, executive director for Care BC, noted there are 8,000 seniors on the North Shore already acting as caregiver for a loved one. Of them, half are over the age of 85.
“[Our board] chose the North Shore because of the demographics here,” she said.
Buchanan welcomed both Catalyst and Care BC into the North Shore Neighbourhood House “hub.”
“It is not every day that we get to make an announcement like this one, so it should go without saying that this is a great, great day in our city,” she said.
Buchanan also took the occasion to gently remind the housing minister of the second, much larger phase of the project, which includes a brand new 30,000-square-foot North Shore Neighbourhood House and 18 storeys of affordable housing to be run by Hollyburn Community Services Society. It too will need government funding to go ahead.
Kahlon could not commit to if, or when, that money would come.
“We have $4.3 billion over the next three years to build affordable housing in British Columbia. I certainly hope that the Phase 2 applies and we’ll have to let the bureaucrats go through the numbers and tell us what are the best projects after that,” he said.