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Summerland council approves affordable housing project

5-storey, 60-unit building to be constructed in downtown area
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A development proposed for Henry Avenue in Summerland will house the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre on the ground floor and residential units on the upper floors. ((Meiklejohn Architectural Design Studio Inc.)

Summerland council has given its approval to a development on Henry Avenue which will accommodate the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre as well as 60 units of affordable housing in a five-storey building.

The proposal is for 13204 and 13214 Henry Ave. One of the lots is present site of Summerland United Church while the other is a vacant property. The church building will be demolished to allow for the construction of the new building.

Turning Points Collaborative Service has been working with the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre in developing this project.

“Because of this project, there will be 60 households that will have an affordable home to live in,” said Ann Howard of Turning Points.

Kelly Fehr of Turning Points said the food bank in Summerland identified the site as a potential housing development more than eight years ago.

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Members of Turning Points said the development is for affordable housing. It is not an emergency shelter, an additional treatment site or housing with support services on site Turning Points has operated such services elsewhere.

“There is a lack of family housing in Summerland, and no housing sites that support this combined demographic,” a Turning Points presentation stated.

Turning Points hopes to have construction of the facility begin in late fall.

Steve Lornie of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce said the chamber is in support of more affordable housing in Summerland. However, he said Turning Points has had a focus on recovery services in other communities. He said Summerland is not equipped to meet the needs connected with a recovery program.

“Summerland has no resources (no hospital, no psychiatric beds, no social welfare agency, no safe injection site, etc.) to handle the problems associated with the clientele that Turning Points customarily works with,” a letter to council from the chamber board stated.

In the letter, the chamber board asked for control mechanisms to prevent affordable housing from becoming anything other than long-term housing for families and individuals capable of paying rent and taking care of themselves.

“Council’s decision on this matter will set the tone of our downtown for many years to come,” the letter stated.

Gary Logan, a farmer in Summerland, also raised concerns about the affordable housing development.

“Summerland is a vibrant, safe community. We want to maintain it as such,” he said.

“Establishment of a recovery centre in our community, in our opinion, will exacerbate problems that we see in other communities throughout British Columbia.”

Denise Gauthier told council there is a need for the housing project within the community.

“Affordable housing is incredibly necessary,” she said.

She added that while addictions treatment is not included in the development, there is a need to provide help to those within the community who are coping with addictions.

Neil Andrews said he is in favour of the proposal, since densification in the downtown core will improve the community. He said the downtown program is preferable to developments that carve up quiet, single-family neighbourhoods in Summerland.

READ ALSO: Housing costs higher in Summerland than South Okanagan

John Bubb, one of the directors of the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, said there are people who are in need living in Summerland.

“We are not exempt in Summerland from homeless people and people with challenges in their lives,” he said.

Coun. Richard Barkwill said the concerns raised about recovery services came about because Turning Points has worked with recovery in other communities.

Members of council said the need for affordable housing is a top concern in Summerland and elsewhere.

Coun. Erin Trainer said adding 60 units of affordable housing will make a difference and will bring significant benefits to the community.

A motion to approve the development was carried unanimously. In addition, Summerland council will provide a maximum of $547,000 by waiving all permits and fees, waiving development cost charges and waiving variance charges for the development.

The financial support is subject to the municipality successfully negotiating a Section 219 restrictive covenant in order to ensure the project remains as affordable housing.

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Summerland mayor Doug Holmes was not present at the meeting. Coun. Janet Peake, a member of Summerland United Church and a board member on the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, was absent from the discussion and vote on the development.

This is not the first time Summerland has had a proposal from Turning Points. In 2021, an affordable housing proposal was suggested for Jubilee Road East, on a property that has been vacant for many years. At that time, there were concerns from residents living across the street from this proposed development.



John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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