Nanaimo won’t be allowed an extension to try to take advantage of provincial funding for supportive housing.
City of Nanaimo Coun. Jerry Hong told the News Bulletin that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has decided to reallocate $7.25 million in funding, which had initially been announced for a 44-unit modular supportive-housing project at 1425 Cranberry Rd., to another community.
The Chase River project was rejected by councillors in late February. It was to be a partnership between B.C. Housing, Pacific Housing and the city and would have broken ground this year.
On Monday, Nanaimo city council unanimously supported a motion to the ministry to formally request an extension to the time frame in order to complete the modular housing project, but the request was denied.
“I think they were just anxious to get it out and there is going to be another opportunity and we will definitely be trying to apply,” Hong said, adding that the biggest problem councillors faced was a lack of city-owned land in the Chase River area.
Coun. Gord Fuller called the province’s decision very disappointing and wasn’t happy with how he and other councillors found out about the decision.
“It’s extremely unfortunate,” he said.
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Concerns had been raised by residents in the Chase River neighbourhood about the project’s proposed location.
“The residents … they were fully supportive of the project but it was just the location of the project being next to a daycare and an elementary school that was concerning, which is understandable,” Hong said.
Hong said it’s very likely that the province never even got the city’s letter because it would have been sent either this past Tuesday or Wednesday.
During a provincial budget round-table discussion at Nanaimo’s Coast Bastion Hotel last week, Hong asked B.C. Finance Minister Carole James for an extension to the timeline to take advantage of the modular supportive housing program, and she assured him the program would have a second round of funding.
Hong said the province has encouraged the city to apply in the future when it has secured land.
“We will still have an opportunity to get the funding,” he said. “We are disappointed, but this gives us time to prepare and prepare the neighbourhood. This gives us time to find what we are looking for and get the proper consultation with the public and I think that is going to be the key.”