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Princeton receives $18 million to build affordable housing for seniors

Local initiative goes forward, to keep more local seniors in their happy place
The announcement was made Friday, March 22. Left to right are Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne, Laura Robbins, PDCSS executive coordinator, MLA Roly Russell, Marilyn Harkness, board vice president, Becky Vermette, PDCSS executive director, Gloria Gagnon, PDCSS community inclusion manager, Ravi Kahlon, Denise Malsbury, PDCSS senior services manager and Carter Bentsen of Bentsen Homes. Photo submitted

Princeton will receive $18 million to build an apartment complex of 29 units, designated as affordable housing for seniors, following an announcement from the province Friday, March 22.

“We are just thrilled,” said Becky Vermette, executive director of the Princeton and District of Community Services Society (PDCSS).

The facility will be located on Fenchurch Avenue, adjacent to the Vermillion Court building, which also provides homes for seniors and is operated by the PDCSS.

At four storeys it will be Princeton’s tallest building, and apartments will be available to anyone 55 years or older.

It is expected that people will be able to occupy homes in two years.

“That is the ultimate goal,” said Vermette.

Half of the suites will be rent-geared-to-income, one third will be leased at market rates, and the balance will be further subsidized for “very low income” clients, said Vermette.

She added that some pets will be allowed in the building.

“One hundred per cent, definitely, that is something that we will be exploring right off the hop.”

Like Vermillion Court, there is no assistive living offered.

However, residents will be eligible for home care services, such as Meals on Wheels and other community supports.

Vermette stressed that this project is unrelated to the demolition of two BC Housing projects, located on Fenchurch and Billiter Avenue, that were rendered uninhabitable by the November 2021 flood.

Chair of the PDCSS board, Suzanne Hoffman, expressed gratitude and joy following the announcement.

“The board is absolutely thrilled that this has finally come to fruition for Princeton.”

An application to the province for a similar project was denied in 2020.

“We are really looking forward to having this project for the town and providing affordable housing for people in town. It’s a big part of our community services mandate…This is really, really huge.

Hoffman added she has known several longtime Princeton residents who were forced to leave the community to find a place to spend their last years.

Mayor Spencer Coyne expressed admiration and gratitude for the PDCSS’s efforts.

“Their dedication to this project has been unwavering. Despite setbacks on an earlier attempt for funding, they kept persevering, and their hard work has paid off.

“Thank you to Becky and her team, MLA Russell, Minister Kahlon, BC Housing, and everyone else involved in making this happen.”

Vermette added that since the flood, the society’s staff has been working from home, as their building was destroyed.

Office space will be allocated to the PDCSS in the bottom level of the new building, which will make the society even more efficient.

The society owns the property the new building will be constructed on, and has also purchased a lot for parking across the street.

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Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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