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Affordable rentals will need financial help from Gibsons

click homes
Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society wants to move ahead with putting two Click modular homes similar to this one on the lot at Franklin Road and Harmony Lane.

After crunching the numbers, the Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society says building two rental units on a small lot owned by the Town of Gibsons is feasible, but the Town will have to come to the table with $200,000 worth of contributions.

Matt Thomson, the Society’s executive director, outlined the financing options for councillors at the Feb. 6 committee of the whole meeting.

The Town and the Society have been working together since 2016, when a short list of five possible locations was drafted. The former road dedication at Franklin Road and Harmony Lane was identified as the best site and now the Society wants to move ahead with putting two Click modular homes on the lot. 

Thomson said they would rent the one-bedroom unit for $800 a month and the two-bedroom unit for $1,200 a month, which is well below market rates.

The estimated cost to develop the lot is around $466,000, including taxes, permits and development cost charges.

Thomson told the committee there are three ways they hope to raise the money: a mortgage on the land; $50,000 through fundraising; and $200,000 in grants.

“We’re hoping for a donation of the land on this parcel,” he said. “The reason for that is because it allows us to access more financing from the credit union if we have outright ownership rather than a lease.”

Thomson said the scale of the project – just two units – also limits what the Society can get through grants from agencies like BC Housing, so they’ll be looking to the Town to help meet the $200,000 target.

“The other thing we are hoping for support from the Town on is around either direct financial contributions or things like DCC rebates or property tax rebates,” Thomson said. “I understand that it can be challenging for the Town to consider those, so one option would be a direct financial contribution from the affordable housing reserve to support the success of the project.”

Thomson said completing this project would create the first real asset for the land trust the Society hopes to set up as it pursues further housing initiatives. One of the bullet points in Thomson’s slide presentation also said it would mean “concrete action on elections commitments by the end of 2018.”

Council is still waiting on a report from the planning department before making any final decisions on the project, and Mayor Wayne Rowe pointed out cash from the housing reserve would be “a big chunk” out of the fund, with the land donation on top of it.