Count Margie Bromley as a fan of the Nelson CARES affordable housing project.
Bromley was one of many visitors to an open house held Wednesday in which Nelson CARES unveiled its designs for the 47-unit Lakeside Place building, which it hopes to have ready for occupancy by early 2020.
The redevelopment of a Nelson CARES-owned site at 805 Nelson Ave., which is currently a 1950s era motel, is targeted at providing housing for residents aged 55 and up, as well as people with disabilities.
“Personally I think it’s fantastic,” said Bromley. “They are more than doubling the space of rental properties [on the site]. They are offering it to people in a lower-income bracket. Those with disabilities, those in wheelchairs, it’s wheelchair accessible. It’s also on a particularly flat piece of Nelson … Easily accessible to Safeway, to the park.
“I think it’s wonderful and long overdue.”
The project began in 2014 and was given the green light last November when Nelson CARES was awarded $6.6 million in funding by B.C. Housing. The final cost, according to Nelson CARES executive director Jenny Robinson, will be about $11 million.
Forty-two of the units, which are either one-bedroom or two-bedrooms suites, are reserved for seniors of low and moderate income. The remaining five studio units are for adults with disabilities who are at risk of homelessness.
“It will help a lot of people,” said Robinson. “We could build three of these blocks today and fill them with the demand that’s out there for folks. Housing’s a big issue for our community and we need a big answer for it. This is a small part of that big answer.”
Affordable housing is a premium in Nelson. The city has a zero occupancy rate and hasn’t added low-income building since the construction of Anderson Gardens in 2013.
Robinson said seniors and disabled people were made a priority in the City of Nelson’s housing strategy. The organization plans to put out a call for rental applications in the next 18 months, and already have about 50 people on a wait list for units.
“We have just an exorbitant amount of seniors looking for housing in this community,” she said.
The open-house was meant to give the public a first look at the plans and to provide feedback.
Sheila Hart suggested Nelson CARES add more space at the front entrance for the handicap bus and vans to pull in and offload residents safely, as well as space on each floor for wheelchairs and walkers.
She said she was happy seniors will have another housing option in Nelson.
“We are really lucky that we’ve got Lake View Village. That’s a marvellous facility, but you’ve got to have money to be able to live there,” said Hart.
Beverly Gelzinis lives near the Nelson CARES site. She expressed concern about an increase in traffic that would follow the building’s construction in what she says is already a congested neighbourhood.
“If you get 47 people, scooters or cars, going in here it is going to be so much more traffic,” said Gelzinis. “It’s scary, all this traffic.”
There are currently 20 people living at the site of the redevelopment. Robinson said Nelson CARES has worked to provide 17 of those residents with new housing plans, and will find homes for the remaining three.
For floor plans and more details, see the online version of this story at nelsonstar.com.