Croftonbrook expansion project sees forward action

Public hearing draws large crowd

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The first stage of a two-part housing development expansion at the Croftonbrook complex moved forward on Thursday with several resolutions passed by the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee.

Trustees voted Thursday to forward a development permit application required for a 20-unit building on to the Advisory Planning Commission and the Agricultural Advisory Planning Commission for review and comment, and asked applicants Island Women Against violence to supply reports on lighting and stormwater design, plus a landscaping bond.

Two new buildings will potentially bring 54 new units to the Croftonbrook property, which now has 20 units in town homes for seniors and people with disabilities. The first two-storey building is planned for a portion of the Croftonbrook property that is zoned for residential use. The second building will require rezoning of a portion that is currently zoned for agriculture, and is also in the LTC’s application stream.

Of the 74 units planned in total, 34 will be designated affordable housing under the Salt Spring LTC definition, which means units will be reserved for people of low to moderate incomes and rent will be capped at 30 per cent of household income.

Eighteen units are targeted at people who have experienced homelessness, an outcome that is strongly supported by local groups working on issues of housing and poverty.

The project has garnered much interest and feedback in its early stages, with numerous  items of correspondence both supporting and opposing the plans received by the Local Trust Committee over the past year. Wednesday’s information session and public hearing also attracted a large crowd with around 55-60 members of the public in attendance. A large contingent of neighbours participated, many of whom had questions about about the mixed social housing model.

“Those of us living in Roscommon are concerned about later on. Can you assure us there will be supervision if there are issues with the homeless people with drugs, fighting and noise?” asked one person.

The Capital Regional District’s Regional Housing First program is a funding partner for the project. CRD housing manager John Reilly explained there is no specific mandate to take in or rehabilitate people with addiction problems.

The program is “a commitment to housing people who have experienced homelessness, period,” he said.

Project coordinators said that partners at Island Heath will be providing support for mental health and other issues, but the tenants will be selected according to their ability to live independently and there will be no supervisor living on site. The applicants further explained there is no plan to fill the new units with people from other parts of the regional district. Only people who have lived on Salt Spring for at least one year will be eligible to live there. 

Meeting participants also expressed concern with the proposed increase in density, both in general and because of limited water supply. A question was raised as to whether the project could go ahead with fewer units.

Project consultant Janis Gauthier explained that given the island’s severe housing crisis, IWAV had chosen to aim for the maximum number of units permitted in affordable housing and density rules under Salt Spring’s official community plan.

“We just really want to house as many Salt Springers as possible,” Gauthier said. 

Island Health has approved the source supply for the water system that will serve the two new buildings. The health authority must still issue a construction permit for the system. Without their assurance of adequate water supply, neither phase will go ahead.

For more on this story, see the July 18, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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