The prefabricated modules for Quadra Island’s largest ever community-driven building project were barged over from Middle Point barge terminal, north of Campbell River, last week. There are 22 of them waiting on the building site at 688 Harper Road. Construction starts next week.
“Monday we expect to have a crane delivered that will start work right away, moving the units onto a single foundation. By mid week it should look like a building without a roof,” said Maureen McDowell, President of the Quadra Island Seniors Housing Society.
She added, “We’re aiming for occupancy from May 1st. We’ll probably have people move in, on a staggered basis, throughout part of April.”
McDowell described the housing situation on Quadra as desperate.
“We are only scratching the surface, we could build twice as many units and still only barely meet the need, especially in the low income bracket.”
“ … The seniors we have selected for living in this facility have been living in very inadequate conditions for the health problems they have. There are mobility issues. Some don’t have access to running water or proper heat. They are living in cabins that are not designed for winter, or in trailers or their vans.”
According to the guidelines posted on the Housing Society’s website, “An applicant must be at least 65 years of age and be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant with an established connection to Quadra Island for two years or more. Priority will be given to those applicants whose present housing is inadequate for their physical needs and psychological wellbeing. Income, including equity, will not solely disqualify a person or a couple; however, preference may be given to a person or a couple whose financial resources restrict them from acquiring adequate housing. All applicants will be required to provide a Notice of Assessment from Revenue Canada for the previous two years.”
There will be sixteen units, 573 square feet in extent, one of which is to be occupied by the caretaker. Every unit has a full kitchen, for those who wish to cook, and shower. According to the society’s website:
“A communal kitchen, common dining area and living room will be incorporated into the building’s design, encouraging the sharing of meals and activities. All suites will have shower bathrooms with accessibility features, and a tub bath will be available for assisted bathing. Multipurpose rooms are an important part of the building plan.“
The rent is $715 a month, which includes heat and electricity.
“Some people would say that’s not affordable, but what happens is that people are eligible to apply for BC Housing’s SAFER program and get a rental subsidy which can be up to $300 a month to offset their rent,” says McDowel.
There are tenants waiting to occupy every unit.
The new complex is next to the pharmacy, in the heart of Quathiaski Cove. According to the Strathcona Regional District staff report
“The development of a 16-unit seniors’ affordable rental housing facility presents an opportunity to provide much needed residential rental suites in a core settlement area of Quadra Island. The development will allow local seniors who need some level of support or care to remain residents of Quadra Island and to be close to nearby local businesses and services.”
“ … The proposal supports the objectives of the Quathiaski Cove Village Plan in providing clustered residential development as part of a sustainable, walkable community within easy reach of local amenities in the core area of Quathiaski Cove. Paths will be developed on site to provide outdoor activity opportunities for residents and the local community, including a retention pond feature and associated water pavilion which doubles as a fire suppression cistern.”
How the Project Came Into Being
This project began as an initiative of Quadra Circle, a group of island volunteers, “mostly aged 55+ whose aim is to enrich our community and our own lives through social and service activities.” In 2016, the Quadra Island Seniors Housing Society remortgaged two duplexes and a detached home in their possession to raise the funds needed to purchase the adjacent property at 688 Harper Road. Later that year, they obtained $3.5 million in interest free & low interest loans from BC’s investment in Housing Innovation Program.
When the Strathcona Regional District Board approved the project’s development permit, in January 2018, Regional Director Jim Abram declared: “This is a bonus for our entire region, including the big island. There will now be spaces not taken up on the big island because they’ll be taken up on Quadra. My congratulations once again to the seniors housing society, all the volunteers who have worked on it, the designers, the consultants, and everybody.”
According to the Housing Society’s website, ” The new residence underway in Quathiaski Cove is intended for seniors in our community who need affordable housing, but who may no longer able to live fully independently. It’s our hope that with age friendly housing and community support services they’ll be able to remain on Quadra for the rest of their lives, in the company of family and friends.”