Housing Society seeks forward momentum

By David F. Rooney

The Revelstoke Housing Society has been between a rock and a hard place for some time and is trying to establish some forward momentum with its proposal to build two rental houses on CPR Hill, says its vice-chairman, Councillor Phil Welock.

“We really need to get something happening,” he said in an interview.

The society had wanted to develop Bridge Creek Properties off Oscar Street but the cost of installing the infrastructure for that multi-unit development is, for now, prohibitive and there is no chance of piggybacking some of those costs on the province’s oft-stated intention to build a new ambulance station on the northwest corner of the property. In fact, the society doesn’t even know when the station will be built.

“I’ve was on the Bid BC website this week and I didn’t see it anywhere,” Welock said.

The other piece of the Bridge Creek Properties puzzle is investment. The society has never been able to find enough people willing to invest their own money in the site. And with no investment nothing is going to get built.

The site on CPR Hill that the Society is eye-balling is a viable site for two single-family rental homes and the fact that the City has major federal grants to install sewerage in the area as well as plans to improve the road surfaces on the hill this summer means that the society will not have to pay directly for lot servicing.

The other part of this equation is that the society has a $250,000 grant from BC Hydro that it received to help it build new rental accommodation in recompense for the company’s demands on the local rental market as a result of the influx of temporary workers for the Unit 5 project. If the money is not used by Dec. 31 the society must give it back to Hydro but it “would really prefer to use it,” Welock said.

He acknowledged that there is some concern about the stability of the slope behind the lots where the society would like to build, but he said a geotechnical report being prepared for the society will determine whether the two single-family homes can be built there.

The society wants to use student workers from Okanagan College’s Residential Construction Program to build the two homes. It is currently discussing that with the college.

Welock said that despite appearances the society is committed to being transparent and open with the public and the news media.

“This is a public society,” he said, adding that public participation is crucial and that is why the City is advertising for four new directors over the next two weeks. “We won’t have our AGM until after the four new public directors have been chosen.”

He acknowledged that there have been some mistakes in terms of public communications but he stated that “we are not a secret society.”

The society’s attempt to hold an AGM two weeks ago foundered when it realized that it did not have enough directors for a quorum. The mistake was compounded when those directors present began openly discussing whether to make their meeting closed to the public. Last week Council reappointed Community Economic Development Director Alan Mason and CSRD Area B Director Loni Parker to the society’s board. But it still needs four new public directors.

If you are interested in serving on the board go to the City’s ad in the News Section to find out how to apply.