A new affordable-housing project on St. Julian Street in Duncan may soon be considered.
City councillor Tom Duncan tabled a notice of motion at the council meeting on Oct. 15 suggesting that council request that B.C. Housing prepare a feasibility study for a housing project on an empty, city-owned, lot on the street.
Duncan also wants city staff to research to see if any federal government housing money is available for such a project.
Duncan said he has been on council for more than 10 years and, in that time, he has only seen one affordable housing project successfully completed in the city.
That one, he said, was when Cowichan Green Community converted a section of the Phoenix Hotel into affordable housing units in 2014. The city gave the CGC a break on some development charges to help with the project.
“We’ve changed our bylaws to allow more affordable housing projects, but we’ve been waiting for developers to build them and they are not coming,” Duncan said.
Duncan said he was recently at a conference where he met an official from B.C. Housing, so he asked what it would take for the BCH to get behind an affordable housing project in the city.
He said that, after that conversation, he came to the conclusion that a good plan would be for the city to offer the land for the project, perhaps with a 99-year mortgage, and BCH would be responsible for construction of the housing units.
Duncan said he thinks it would be good if city staff and BCH could collaborate on the feasibility study, and he would like to see officials from the Municipality of North Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District get involved in the planning process, if the project proceeds, so they might try something similar.
“I’m tired of waiting for a project like this to come to us,” Duncan said.
“We don’t need any more studies on this issue, and we need to take advantage of the funding programs that are in place right now.”
Duncan said he wants to table the motion before the municipal elections on Oct. 20 because it would get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
“If we wait until after the election, it can take ages for a new council to get used to governing and making these kinds of decisions,” he said.
“I think we have do something right away, so I would like to see this process begin at the next meeting so we can get shovels in the ground as soon as possible.”