Hiker Lydia Kania, 91, and Corky Evans helped each other to the finish line of last fall’s Hike or Bike for Housing, which raised $45,000 for the seniors’ housing project in the heart of Slocan. Photo: Moe Lyons

Slocan seniors’ housing to break ground this fall

Almost 50 per cent of the Slocan Valley population of 5,000 are age 50 or older

Construction will start this fall on eight affordable housing units for seniors in Slocan.

“It’s been a very long haul,” said Slocan Valley Seniors’ Housing Society president Rita Moir, “but we are really pleased to announce final funding has been approved.”

Along with the good news, there is still one hurdle: the twelve-suite project in the heart of Slocan has been downsized to eight units due to sharp increases in construction materials and additional requirements since initial budgeting two years ago. BC Housing is encouraging the Society to pursue the additional four units when a future program becomes available.

“We’ll think of these eight units as phase one,” said Moir. “We’re so glad to get going with these eight beautiful suites, and construction will include the infrastructure to get those final four done as soon as possible.” The four-plexes, directly behind the Slocan Library and Wellness Centre, will include six one-bedroom suites with lofts and two two-bedroom suites.

A 2015 need and demand Study by housing consultant Ann Harvey documented the great need for seniors’ housing: almost 50 per cent of the Slocan Valley population of 5,000 are age 50 or older, yet there are only 20 units of affordable, purposely-built seniors’ rental housing, including the housing society’s Passmore Lodge, in the 100-km long mountain valley.

The society publicly tendered the Slocan project, and as a result, NDB Construction (Nancy and Darin Berg) of Castlegar was chosen and plans to start construction this fall.

The $1.9 million project has become a reality because of funds, land and many thousands of volunteer hours from BC Housing, Columbia Basin Trust (the Trust), the Village of Slocan, Slocan Valley Economic Development Comm-ission, RDCK, Slocan Valley Community Legacy Society, Heritage Credit Union, Slocan Legion Branch #276, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, local housing and trades professionals and the entire local community.

BC Housing is contributing $831,000 plus a low-interest mortgage, the Trust is providing $269,000, and the community, including those aged one to 91, raised more than $45,000 last year during the three-day Hike or Bike for Housing. The Village contributed land leased for $1 per year for 99 years, plus help with infrastructure, funding and permitting. Over $110,000 in pro bono professional services have been contributed by community professionals, including building designer Eric Clough, legal counsel Leon Pigott, and engineers Ted Nunn and Dale Norman. Bartel Skeete of Winlaw donated $25,000 worth of construction lumber.

“This has really been a group effort,” said Moir, “but we especially want to thank our team: building designer Eric Clough and project co-ordinator Tamara Smith, who worked doggedly with BC Housing; Mark Brunton at the Trust, and Slocan’s Mayor Jessica Lunn, council, staff, and CAO Michelle Gordon. I also want to thank our housing society staff and board of twelve stalwart volunteers, who have worked so hard and have held firm. It is a big project for a small non-profit society.”

For more information, please attend the Slocan Valley Seniors’ Housing Society’s Annual General Meeting at Passmore Lodge on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. or visit www.svhousing.ca.

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