While a groundbreaking ceremony for a non-profit housing project at the site of the former school board office on Anderson Street is set for October 28, construction is already underway.
Following a delay of several months, foundation work has begun on the 33-unit, three storey complex that will provide low-cost housing for seniors at risk of homelessness.
Janice Ivan, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Kootenay branch, which will operate the facility, says the funding partners are all finally in place, and will be revealed at the ceremony.
“Good things are happening,” she says. “We had to have permission from all of our partners to make the announcement. It’s often difficult to get all levels of government to commit. Now we’re good to go.”
One confirmed partner is BC Housing, which in January announced it would provide $3.2 million in capital costs plus land equity worth about $675,000. Canadian Mental Health is also chipping in $250,000.
The total project was previously announced as $7 million, but Ivan couldn’t say whether that is still the final number.
The city rezoned the property more than three years ago, but the project stalled for lack of funding.
In May, the old school board building was demolished and Ivan appeared before city council, asking them to write off more than $170,000 in building fees and waive property taxes.
Without that help, she said more expensive portions of project may have to be altered.
Councillors, however, suggested they may be able to provide either help with capital costs or a tax exemption, but not both.
Ivan said Monday the matter is still in the works, but she anticipates it will be cleared up in time for the groundbreaking.
“This has been a tough one simply because so many levels of government and private partners are involved,” she said. “Getting the sanction from them all to go ahead has been a tough process. Finalizing partnership agreements has also been a bit onerous, but we’re almost there.”
Construction will likely take a year to complete.
Each 430-square foot unit would include a large bathroom, small kitchen, living room, and storage space.
The groundbreaking ceremony on the 28th is at 2:30 p.m.
— With files from Andrea Klassen