Pastor Jim Reimer is continuing his quest for affordable housing for the most needy people in Nelson.
He wants the public to come to Our Daily Bread on April 21 to discuss his latest idea—a $6-million three-storey building to be constructed behind the Kootenay Christian Fellowship’s building on Falls Street
“There will be refreshments and a facilitated meeting to hear people’s questions, insights, and dreams for affordable housing,” he says. “We want to hear ideas and concerns we may not have thought of.”
Reimer says the first floor of his proposed building would provide rented commercial space and would house SHARE Nelson, whose current lease on Lakeside Drive expires next year. The upper two floors would provide 40 housing units. He said he hopes to break ground within a year.
Our Daily Bread would continue to operate in its current Falls Street location, in front of the proposed new building.
“For tenants, we are looking at seniors, couples, the working poor, youth in transition from Cicada Place. These will be below-market rents.”
How will he finance construction of such a major project?
Reimer says he knows that rents based on the cost of construction of the building will be around $1500 a month, far beyond what his tenants could afford, “so we are definitely going to need some input.”
Reimer offers a challenge to a community that talks a lot about affordable housing.
“If the community really wants to have more rental units for this clientele, someone has to come up with some money,” he says.
“We are in conversations right now with a number of players: CMHC, the Columbia Basin Trust, BC Housing, the City of Nelson. If we can have synergy between these players, this will be a done deal.”
Asked how he expects to convince CMHC and BC Housing when both agencies are known to be backing away from financing housing projects like this one, Reimer says, “Anything is possible. BC Housing has all sorts of opportunities that we can tap into that are not real dollars, but they can give us expertise and support — they are very bullish about this and we are in discussions with them.”
Reimer says he has been discussing the plan with city planning staff, and while he says he has so far received no clear commitments, “there are all kinds of ways they could help make this happen, like help with connection fees and development costs and those kinds of things.”
Reimer is an optimistic man who does not give up easily. His much-publicized 2011 plan to buy and renovate the Savoy building turned out to be financially unfeasible. And his more recent plan to create a secure homeless camp fell on deaf ears at Nelson city council, but he says that proposal is not dead and still has considerable community support.
The April 21 meeting at Our Daily Bread starts at 7:00 pm.