Those plans for housing and other uses aren’t firm yet, though, and the City wants to hear from us about the project. There’s a Public Open House at the Miners Hall on March 5, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, to let us know what has happened until then, and we can give our informed opinions once we’re up to speed – since uninformed opinions aren’t worth hearing.
Much is still unknown. Will there be a new City Hall on the ground floor of the project, or professional or commercial space? Will the building be three stories high, or four? Exactly how many housing units will it hold? Will there be adequate funding available? Will the necessary approvals be forthcoming?
The Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society has obtained preliminary approval from BC Housing and Columbia Basin Trust for funding for a “workforce housing” project on the west side of the old Emcon lot. It’s still in the conceptual stage, and still subject to adjustment based on citizen input. It’s also subject to final approvals and funding from BC Housing.
Who is contributing to this project?
The City of Rossland is contributing the land, and is looking for other funding sources to help with the project. BC Housing is contributing some capital funding and is arranging the financing. Columbia Basin Trust is contributing some of the capital funding.
What happens next?
Before the project can proceed, plans must be finalized, and the Official Community Plan must be amended to accommodate new zoning for the site, and then the rezoning, then a development permit, and a building permit. But first, the Open House on March 5. We can all find out more then.
According to the project’s planned timeline, if all goes well tendering could take place in about one year, in early 2020, and the construction could possibly be complete in 2021.
Most people can understand the need for more affordable housing in Rossland, especially for people who work in the service industry and don’t earn big bucks. Any resort municipality is heavily reliant on its service workers, but at the same time, resort municipalities often have higher-priced real estate that many workers cannot afford – even to rent. The 24 to 36 apartments planned for this project should help several local businesses retain employees.
Who can live in those units?
The target renters for the planned units are families and individuals who work year-round in Rossland, and have modest incomes. Tenants will be selected with the help of criteria developed by the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society and BC Housing, and those criteria will include means testing. BC Housing will have input into the rental rates.
Mayor Kathy Moore said, “I’m very excited about this project. Doing something on the Emcon lot to benefit our community has been an important goal for Council for many years. To maintain a diverse community, it’s important to have housing options at a variety of price points. Rossland remains very affordable compared to many other cities in BC, but we’ve seen the cost of housing rise to unaffordable levels for many of our local service workers.”
History in the making:
The site has been known as “the Emcon lot” for many years, because it was used by Emcon as a storage area and highway works yard. Before that – long before -- it was a Great Northern Railway station, and a loading and warehousing area. The site has since been remediated, but sat mostly empty for years, and the eastern half of the lot now hosts our new skatepark and youth centre.
What’s next? It IS an exciting prospect.