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REPORTING · 1st October 2015
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat City Council on Monday, September 28th began with a presentation from Pastor Don Read, who was asking for a letter of support for the Mountainview Housing Society. He thanked the Council for the financial support, the grant they received earlier this year, and they were able to complete their phase two environmental assessment.

He explained to Council that this fall, they will be presenting to the Pacific District of the Christian Missionary Alliance who holds the title on the property they wish to develop. They are asking for their approval of the subdivision of the property.

“We’re also in the process of finalizing a grant application from CMHC, which will help us finance our feasibility study as well as help us complete the preliminary designs of the project,” said Read. “The feasibility study will include the initial business plan for the development of the land, the construction of up to 30 units, as well as the financial sustainability of the housing project. Our goal is that the housing project will be able to financially sustain itself once it is complete.”

Read stated he was there to ask for a letter of support in order to get the CMHC application. So far, they have approached the Delta King Housing Society, the Kitimat Child Development Centre, Nathan Cullen, the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce and now, Kitimat Mayor and Council.

Mayor Phil Germuth asked if the environmental stage two came back clean. He was told this was the case. Councillor Mario Feldhoff asked when construction was planned to begin, if all goes well. The response was the society would have to go through the pre-planning stage first. The CMHC grant, if successful, would help them get through this phase.

“The whole idea is to create affordable housing, and so we have to look at creative partnerships, and we have to look at creative ways to make it affordable. If we were to go and build units on the property, the way it is right now, they would not be affordable because you’re looking at least $160 a square foot to build the unit without any of the moving of soil or any of that yet,” said Read.

He said they were $40,000 into the project, and the feasibility and the preliminary design would require another $20,000. They have to get the preliminary work done before they know what they are going to build. Read promised to return to Council once all of this is done so he can give them another timeline. He added they are in negotiations with one of the private industries and they could look at a 2017 build.

“The Goal is to create sustainable housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities, so we’re looking for partnerships with private industry who are looking to lease units over five years which would put 1.7 million dollars into the project. We’re looking at all kinds of creative avenues and once we figure out when we’re going to be able to do it and what it’s going to look like, and sort of what strategy or plan fits best, then we are going to pull the trigger. We’re open to all options at this point, we’re keeping our eye on the goal and whatever is going to bring us to our goal, that is what we’re going to move towards,” said Read.

Councillor Rob Goffinet asked if Read’s group was going to receive any support from BC Housing.

“BC Housing is broken,” said Read, “In all different manners. “Working with BC Housing, there is so much red tape and so much broken promises and so many meetings that were promised that they don’t show up too. I would be hard pressed to say that that is even a viable option.”

Councillor Edwin Empinado expressed the Council brought the concern to Minister Rich Coleman at UBCM. Coleman told Council they would look into it.

“What we said, and mentioned was, more funding to the non-profit societies, especially the ones addressing housing in Kitimat. And specifically to that they need to streamline on the application on some funding from government,” said Empinado.

Read stated they spent 8 months working with BC Housing, and received nothing. They filled out forms for CMHC grant money and they’ll know in two weeks if they have the grant money.

Councillor Mary Murphy stated they also discussed rent subsidies over and above what is out there at UBCM because they were successful bringing a motion for extra funding for people who needed it. Council was told this was already available and there could be a lack of education for people who need to get into some housing to access those subsidies.

She asked Read to come to Council if he needs further help so they could try and move the project forward.

A motion was made to provide the letter of support. The motion was called and carried.