Revelstoke’s hopes for more affordable housing receive a boost

By David F. Rooney

A Revelstoke Community Housing Society proposal has been tapped to proceed to the next phase of the Affordable Rental Housing Initiative (ARHI) established by the Columbia Basin Trust and BC Housing.

“We’re proposing to build two six-unit townhouse buildings,” Chairman Mark McKee said Tuesday morning shortly after learning that the society’s proposal was one of four selected by the CBT from a field of nine submissions.

“All told we’re looking at a $4.25 million project for which we’re hoping to receive a $2  million grant. Our goal is to create some real affordable housing (that would cost) $650 a month for three-bedroom units.”

If the Revelstoke project receives funding it will be available for local residents who are working or who have a steady income, McKee said, adding that “people would have to qualify for it. It will not become short-term skier accommodation.”

“My major concern is the local housing market and where it’s going. We think rents are going down. “

McKee said three-bedroom units are probably going for between $1,200 and $1,500 a month right now.

“I don’t want to say we’re protecting the market, but I don’t want to destabilize it either,” he said.

Revelstoke has a good shot at receiving the funding it is seeking. The City has made land available for affordable housing, the Community Housing Society is well-organized and has already completed one project — a duplex on Oscar Street.

The CBT and BC Housing’s initiative has $10 million to support affordable rental projects in the basin.  The other three proposals selected to move to the next phase of the ARHI are from the Salmo Supportive Housing Society, the Elk Valley Family Society in Fernie and the Nelson CARES Society.

A statement from the CBT said the four successful proponents will be sent an invitational Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop a full response, including a complete business case, for their project, by this fall. At this time, they may also be eligible to receive support from BC Housing to engage a consultant to assist in developing their response to the RFP; however, final granting decisions under the ARHi will not be made until the next phase of the RFP process. The CBT and BC Housing will evaluate the proposals determine who will receive grants before the end of the year.

Communities, including proponents unsuccessful in this phase, will have an opportunity to respond to a second call for proposals next spring.

CBT is contributing $5 million toward this three-year, $10-million initiative that is being delivered in partnership with BC Housing to support new affordable rental housing projects in communities across the Columbia Basin.  Learn more about the program here.