Salt Spring Commons welcomes first tenants
The week leading up to New Year’s Day was a busy one for 12 island families who moved into homes at the new Salt Spring Commons housing development.
Salt Spring Commons is designed as long-term rental housing in two- and three- bedroom townhomes, with a mix of rental formulas based on income eligibility. The first 12 rental units represent completion of Phase 1 of the project. Phase 2 occupancy of an additional 12 family units is expected for May. The development is owned and operated by Salt Spring Island Community Services (SSICS).
Born-and-raised Salt Springer Taylor Booth is one of the people who celebrated the new year with a move. He is thrilled to have a home for his baby daughter and fiancée.
“I think this is what Salt Spring has been lacking really quite severely over the past number of years,” Booth said. “Over the years I have seen countless families have to move off the island because there’s nothing they can find here for housing.”
Salt Spring Community Services agrees that “many families with ‘good paying jobs’ are living in substandard housing, being forced to move frequently or even seasonally, or deciding to move off island permanently.”
“The negative impacts this has on our community’s schools, economy and overall social wellness are widely known and discussed,” the organization states.
Booth’s daughter was born in June of last year, and he found out the very next month that his landlord needed to sell the property along with the small cottage his family had been renting.
“It was a little bit stressful because we didn’t have anywhere else to go. We didn’t have any leads,” said Booth, who owns Bean Drinkin Cafe in Ganges Alley.
Fortunately, someone told him about the Salt Spring Commons project and his partner jumped right on the application process, which took a few months to go through.
Having become a successful applicant, the family now has a brand new home in a community of other families. Booth said so far he’s met seven or eight of the other tenants who have kids of all ages, from toddler to teen.
“It’s really nice to have it all coming together,” Booth said.
In addition to the new construction that means the units are safe and clean, Booth said he appreciates the fact that the Bishops Walk location is close to town and of course that the rent is affordable, “which is impossible to find on this island.”
The two-hectare (five-acre) property is within the Ganges village area, close to local schools and adjacent to an established pedestrian trail leading to town and Mouat Park. The complex includes a common house with a community room for post-pandemic tenant meetings, events and parties, as well as shared commercial laundry facilities, supplemental to those provided in each townhouse unit. A courtyard and common grassy area gives kids a safe place to play outside.
Thanks to the generosity of the Powell Street Foundation, a principal funder, the project also boasts having a state-of-the-art solar project with grid-tied solar powering electric vehicle charging stations, landscape lighting and shared laundry. A separate system is expected to supply about 30 per cent of the domestic energy needs for the residents with each unit fitted with an array to offset power consumption.
SSICS is still accepting some rental applications for Phase 2 units as submitted through the BC Housing Registry. People should visit bchousing.org and the Housing Listings page to start the application process.
The provincial government provided $2.4 million towards the project, with additional funds and support provided by SSICS, the Capital Regional District and the Islands Trust.