The St. John’s Anglican Church property at 486 Jubilee St. will be the location for the complete rebuild of the nearby aging Duncan Manor on First Street.
Shelley Cook, executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association, confirmed that the Duncan Housing Society has chosen the site in a letter to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
She said the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia is in the process of signing a long-term land lease agreement with the DHS to redevelop the lands to include an approximately 118-unit affordable housing development on the site, down from the 134 units initially planned for the new facility.
The existing St. John’s Parish church will be retained on the site, and a new hall for parishioners will be constructed.
The DHS first announced it was considering the site in May.
Once the new facility is built and the tenants at the current Duncan Manor are moved there, the old facility on First Street will be torn down in phase two of the Duncan Manor replacement project and new affordable rental housing units will be built at the site.
“BC Housing remains committed to replacing the existing Duncan Manor building under the Community Housing Fund program,” Cook said in the letter to the CVRD.
“The project [at the church site] will be submitted to…BC Housing in September, 2022, and an application to the Community Housing Fund will be submitted in spring 2023 for phase two of the project, the redevelopment of the site on which Duncan Manor is currently located.”
The current Duncan Manor is a three-storey, 122-unit building that offers below-market independent housing for seniors and persons with disabilities.
The facility is more than 50 years old and has reached the end of its life.
The DHS had proposed replacing it with an entirely new six-storey expanded facility at the current site with 134 new and affordable housing units when completed.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the City of Duncan and the DHS last year in which the city committed to considering swapping a portion of the nearby Lawn Bowling Club for a section of Centennial Park’s parking lot to make way for the construction of the new building on a portion of the parking lot.
But Duncan city council turned down plans for the land swap last December after many in the community raised concerns about the loss of green space in the city if the proposal was given the green light.
“With a commitment to ensure the project remained in the downtown core of Duncan, the DHS pivoted to a new site in Duncan when it was clear the original site was not an option,” Cook said.
“After discussions with the CVRD board about a possible land assembly for the project involving CVRD property in downtown Duncan were unsuccessful, the DHS reconfigured the project to fit on the [church] site, located at 486 Jubilee St.”
The CVRD’s committee of the whole recommended at its meeting on Sept. 28 that a $300,000 contribution to the project from the Cowichan Housing Association’s Housing Trust Fund be approved by the board.
The CHA has already approved the funding request, but held off on submitting the project to the CVRD’s board of directors for final approval until a location for the development was confirmed.
But Klaus Kuhn, director for the Youbou/Meade Creek electoral area, voted against the funding request.
“I’ve been opposed to this housing project right from the beginning,” he said.
The majority of voters across the CVRD gave the green light to establishing an affordable housing initiative, that would cost the district’s taxpayers a maximum of $765,000 per year, in a referendum that was held during the last municipal elections in 2018.
The money is managed by the CHA.