Affordable housing group seeks $400K

Now that Gibsons council has passed the zoning amendments for an affordable housing project on Shaw Road, the Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society is hoping for a $400,000 contribution to the cost of building the first phase of 40 units.

As well as the Shaw Road land, which is valued at around $1.6 million, the Town has already committed to $30,000 in funding for the society’s operations this year as well as a further $50,000 for 2020 and $20,000 in support for the society’s other project on Franklin Road, which is also being built on Town-owned land.

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In a presentation to council Dec. 3, Andy Broderick of New Commons Development, which is working with the society on the project, said they are hoping to cover the bulk of the cost through an $8.8-million mortgage with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as well as a grant of approximately $2 million.

The $400,000, if approved by council, would come from the Town’s affordable housing reserve fund.

“The [money from the] Town reserve fund, if you calculate the numbers, is meaning about $129 less in rent … because you don’t have debt to service,” Broderick said.

Broderick also said at the moment CMHC has the only program to fund this sort of development, but they would look to BC Housing as a funding source as well if the agency announces a program that’s a good fit.

Snow removal

The Town of Gibsons is looking to make some minor changes to its snow and ice clearing policy.

Councillors last reviewed the policy in 2017, after a very snowy winter in 2016

That winter, “the Town received dozens of calls from residents regarding icy conditions on the sidewalks resulting in numerous door to door visits by the bylaw enforcement officer as well as social media campaigns to alert property owners that they were responsible for the removal of snow and ice from sidewalks fronting their properties,” a report prepared for the Dec. 3 meeting of the committee of the whole said.

Director of infrastructure services Dave Newman also told the committee that because snow days are not common in Gibsons, the Town doesn’t have a large fleet of snow removal equipment, and many residents aren’t well equipped to deal with snow either.

“Consequently, any snowfall that results in accumulations remaining after a day or two causes a disproportionate amount of inconvenience,” he said.

The responsibility of property owners to clear the sidewalks fronting their properties is not changing, but the updated policy clarifies which departments and staff are responsible for snow and ice removal and expands the list of areas the Town is responsible for clearing, including a new section of sidewalk and multi-use path on Gibsons Way.

Single-use-item bans

Council’s committee of the whole voted Dec. 3 to take further action to back up the proposed bylaw banning single-use bags and plastic straws that got first reading last month and will soon be sent out for feedback from local businesses.

The motion included sending a letter to the Prime Minister and minister of environment to support a ban on single-use plastics in 2021 and a commitment to review the new bylaw on single-use items once a year for the next three years “to consider the addition of more single-use-item bans to reduce the Town’s landfill waste.”

A third point covered in the motion, a communications campaign to promote waste reductions and responses to climate change, is already being acted on by Town staff.

In a related item, the committee voted to move ahead with changes to the Garbage and Organics Collection and Disposal Bylaw, which would update the definition of collectable garbage to exclude “collectible organics, recyclable materials as mandated by RecycleBC including beverage containers, packaging and printed paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, grass cuttings, tree or hedge clippings,” as well as other items not suitable for the landfill.

The goal is to encourage people to ensure everything that can be diverted from the landfill is diverted. The bylaw changes, which have yet to pass council, would also give the bylaw department the option of issuing a fine of $100 if necessary

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