Pemberton seniors housing stalled 

Site preparation, cost, administration remain unresolved

A seniors housing project in Pemberton still hasn't seen the light of day despite being announced a year ago.

On April 8, 2009, West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre announced an 18-unit modular housing complex to be located at 7420 Flint Street, just off Portage Road. The units were to come as part of the provincial government's Seniors' Rental Housing Initiative, which aims to build 1,000 new units throughout British Columbia.

The number of units in the complex has since gone from 18 to 22 but the Village of Pemberton and B.C. Housing have found themselves scrambling to make the project a reality.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy cited a series of factors that have kept the complex from being built.

"We are working with the province to resolve outstanding issues with regard to the cost of the project, the project's viability I suppose," he said. "There's issues around access, there's issues around the cost of, the type of fill and the requirements for fill that are needed in that particular site. We're waiting for some geotechnical reports and a final design in terms of the layout of the facility."

A Committee of the Whole meeting last week saw an exasperated council try to hammer out a number of issues around the complex. Prior to the meeting they received a staff report that said the various partners in the project, including the Village, B.C. Housing and the Lions Society, are "not moving forward together in any unified fashion."

The project has not established a site plan, nor have access road negotiations been considered or a Development Permit applied for. There's also an urgent need to start loading the site with fill that will allow the units to be constructed on top of it.

Sturdy said there isn't an administrative model in place for the project yet. The Lions Society is expected to manage it but B.C. housing wants to see an agreement in place before the project can move forward.

"There's no agreement at this point with the Lions as to the administration of the facility," Sturdy said. "So I would imagine that B.C. Housing would like to have that agreement in place, to provide some surety that they actually have a manager for the site who's going to be looking after it for the longer term."

As for the announcement itself, it was essentially dropped on Pemberton without much advance warning. The village was surprised to hear it, but happy to see that the housing was coming. However, Pemberton soon found out that it would have to contribute around $150,000 to put the fill on the property. Sturdy said the village is happy to do it.

"You don't take a seniors housing project worth a couple million dollars and say, oh well, we don't have $150,000," he said. "You have to do what you have to do in order to make sure that these things don't slip through your fingers. I don't think we'd be doing our job if we gave up that easily."



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