By David F. Rooney
Drive along Oscar Street this week and all you’ll see of Revelstoke’s long-awaited affordable housing project are a few stakes in the ground. But that could change relatively quickly.
The Community Housing Society selected its choice for prime contractor on Monday, April 13, and if all goes well and BC Housing approves the society’s project workers could be breaking ground sometime in the next two months.
The project has had an admittedly on-again/stalled-again life since the Columbia Basin Trust and BC Housing approved it more than three years ago. But since the change of regime at City Hall last November all roadblocks finally appear to have fallen by the wayside.
Mark McKee, wearing his Housing Society Chairman’s hat, said in an interview Tuesday morning that BPR Construction of Vernon had the lowest bid for the 12-unit project — $1,949,960. BPR had been selected as the preferred bid in 2013 before the project was stalled. Its selection as the prime contractor will not be official until BC Housing gives final approval to the project. This new bid is nonetheless about $160,000 over its previous bid and McKee acknowledged that the society has to find ways to save that money.
“Our budget is tight and we are doing everything we can not to raise rents — that’s not politically acceptable to us,” he said. “Still we have to find ways to cut about $200,000… all ideas are being looked at.”
Despite that wrinkle — which the society had predicted would happen when the previous Council dragged its feet on affordable housing — McKee is confident that construction could begin by early summer.
While some discussion remains to be held regarding potential drainage, water service and fire service issues, all other aspects of the project appear to be on track, he said. Some project proponents would like to see the society just bull its way ahead and worry about details later but McKee is counselling a more cautious approach: “If you cut a corner here or there you’re gonna pay for it down the road.”