ISLA update and GOOD NEWS!
Since 2005, volunteers with ISLA have worked hard to find a way to get affordable home ownership housing onto the land at 5040 Central Road donated to ISLA by the Weiss family. We could all envision Beulah Creek Village – but finding a way to fund it and make it happen has been a challenge.
In November 2016, Phase 1 of a 30-lot bare land strata subdivision plan was submitted to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) by ISLA. In anticipation of it being accepted, ISLA applied for funding through Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) to prepare for the project. We thought we were on our way.
In February 2017, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) notified ISLA that our application would require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) – essentially, this is a requirement to form our own private water utility corporation.
During the spring, Katherine Ronan and Bernhard Weiss began investigating all that was entailed in a CPCN and what could be done to prevent triggering one. Katherine called engineers and land surveyors from Campbell River to Nanaimo for information and guidance. Few had experience dealing with CPCNs and those that did, strongly advised that we avoid it by restructuring our project.
In June 2017 ISLA met with the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) to ask for assistance with the complex CPCN process and request financial support. They informed us that Regional District refuses to be involved in any way with small water utility corporations.
After Bernhard Weiss’ in-depth investigations, it became clear that the CPCN requirements were extremely onerous, time consuming and expensive. Clearly, proceeding with the subdivision as planned would take all the “affordability” out of the project.
Three engineers and an experienced real estate developer corroborated this. As well, the MOTI head-approving officer for this region confirmed that in her experience, a CPCN makes any subdivision of less than 100 (market value) lots financially unviable.
Our hope, and the hope of the Weiss family, that we could subdivide into freehold properties was crushed. We began to explore what we could do without subdividing and to wonder if, in fact, a rental project was the best route to take.
In August, we invited Malcolm McNaughton, the BC Housing Director of Regional Development for Vancouver Island, to visit the project. He was enthusiastic about the property and impressed with the progress to date done by Hornby’s volunteer effort. He was confident that BC Housing would fund both the construction of the infrastructure and the building of the housing.
After discussion and consultation with the Bernhard and Christa Weiss, it was decided that the land be considered for a rental project for now and for a possible home ownership component in the future.
We have proposed that ISLA enter into a partnership with BC Housing for the purpose of building affordable housing at Beulah Creek Village beginning with rental housing.
The new BC government has pledged an infusion of a substantial amount of money for affordable housing. Although the official government announcement is not due until the spring, BC Housing expects it will be made this fall. So, this is an excellent time to make an application with BC Housing. From everything that we have been told, the project can be got going rather quickly and families can be in safe, secure, year-round housing fairly soon.
Everyone we have spoken to at BC Housing and CMHC is anxious to see our project go ahead and are willing to work with us to make sure it gets completed in a way that is affordable, financially sound and environmentally sustainable.
It has been a long road, with many twists and turns, but the goal is in site. First and foremost heartfelt thanks to the Weiss family for the donation of the land at Beulah Creek and for their continued support and flexibility with the project. Thanks to our Islands Trustees for their endorsement. Thanks to everyone over the years who has volunteered to be on the ISLA board; donated funds, artwork or music; sat the quilt, organized fundraisers; helped with site preparation. Every bit has counted and has contributed to this momentous development.
We know many people will be interested in the rentals. Future residents will be full time Hornby families and workers, of limited income but able to demonstrate an ability to pay their rent. Our next job is to find out who wants to live at Beulah Creek and what sized homes they will need. To that end, we will prepare a short questionnaire to assist us in planning the number and size of the homes to be built. It will be ready shortly so keep an eye on our website which will be updated as soon as possible.
Hang in there. It’s coming but we’ve still got lots to work on. Do you have a skill or time to volunteer with ISLA? We would like to hear from you:
To learn more about these exciting developments come to our AGM on September 17th – Sunday from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at the Hornby Island Community Hall.
PS: By the way, you may not know that rental assistance is available from BC Housing. Find out if you are eligible for a RAP or SAFER grant here: