Councillors in Gibsons have agreed to change an affordable housing agreement the Town made with a developer in 2013.
The deal called for Sunbelt Properties, part of Longman Developments, to include three units priced at or below $241,000 as part of the rezoning for a 28-unit townhouse complex at 798 Park Road. One unit would be added in each of the project’s three phases, and the Town would be responsible for finding eligible buyers.
Company president David Longman wrote the Town last month asking to reopen the agreement. Longman said the estimated market price of the units in 2013 was around $261,000, but “Fast forward to 2018 and our estimated market price has increased to $320,00 for our three most affordable market units.”
According to Longman’s letter, the increase in market prices has coincided with “a sharp increase in building costs on and off the Coast.”
Councillors were asked to consider two options at their July 24 meeting: accept the developer’s offer of a $73,485 contribution to the affordable housing reserve, or agree to a covenant requiring the developer to rent the three units for a minimum of 10 years.
Coun. Stafford Lumley, who has called for a review of the Town’s affordable housing contribution policy, said dealing with housing agreements has become the “bane of our existence” because of inconsistencies, and accepting the rental option would add another inconsistency.
“So far to this point, this is what we’ve been doing and we’re building a reserve and our affordable housing fund, and I certainly want to use that money at this point… The cash contribution is acceptable for me and I think it’s more than enough for this size of development,” said Lumley.
Coun. Jeremy Valeriote echoed Lumley’s view, saying he was “comfortable with the consistency of cash contributions,” and deputy mayor Silas White also spoke in support of accepting the cash offer.
“I think it’s important to recognize that we do have three different affordable housing initiatives that the Town’s working on… There may be some more requests for funding from the Town as support for various aspects of those initiatives, so putting some more money away is probably not a bad idea,” White said.
Council voted unanimously in favour of cancelling the previous agreement and accepting a cash contribution. Construction on the project is now awaiting the issuance of a building permit.
Coun. Charlene SanJenko did not participate in the discussion because her husband now works for Longman Developments, and Mayor Wayne Rowe was absent.