Salt Spring Island Community Services, along with the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Capital Regional District, broke ground on the Salt Spring Commons project Tuesday morning.
The project, which has been in the works since 1994, will be built on a two-hectare parcel of land on Bishops Walk Road that is owned by SSICS, and will provide 24 affordable rental homes to people on Salt Spring.
“This project is a testament to the power of a community pulling together,” said SSICS executive director Rob Grant in a press release.
SSICS received provincial funds to the tune of $2.4 million for the project, which was announced by Housing Minister Selina Robinson at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Eight triplex buildings will be constructed on the site, which will include two- and three-bedroom units. Thirty per cent of the homes will be for middle-income families, with annual incomes of up to $60,000. Half of the units will be available to lower income residents, and the remaining 20 per cent will be for low-income families and residents. According to a news release from the ministry, rental rates are projected to be between $570 per month for two-bedroom units and $1,475 for three-bedroom units.
“These are often people who are working, they’re doing their best to raise their families or they’re on a fixed income,” Robinson said. “They’re a part of the community, but getting the kind of secure and safe housing that they need so they can eliminate their stress and make put their energy into their work, volunteering and into their families. We want to make sure they can do that.”
Announced in their 2018 budget, the NDP government plans to build 114,000 homes for British Columbians by 2028. The Salt Spring Commons project was part of the first round of projects to benefit from the Community Housing Fund.
The Community Housing Fund is used to provide housing for families with incomes up to $107,000. The Salt Spring Commons project is for the lower end of that income bracket, with a maximum income of $60,000 per family.
“We have a 10-year plan because it is going to take 10 years to really deliver on the housing that people need. We know that people are desperate and we know that people need it. We are moving as fast as we can, but it does take time, especially here on the island,” Robinson said.
“We’re working with communities and supporting them to identify how to best deliver on the kind of housing that their community needs,” she added. “Government needs to be able to respond and say ‘Okay, how can we help you get there?’”
Robinson explained that the ministry asked local governments and agencies across the province to prepare ideas for a future call for projects. The recipients will be announced in the spring of 2020. Additional funds and support for Salt Spring Commons were provided by SSICS, the CRD and the Islands Trust.
Construction is expected to begin this fall.
This story has been updated. The original version said the maximum income level per family was $107,000 per household, that number refers to the maximum allowed for the provincial fund. The Salt Spring Commons will have an income cap of $60,000 per household.