Five years after its formation, the Creston Valley Community Housing Society has partnered with the Town of Creston for a building site.
An agreement has been reached that will pave the way for construction of affordable family housing units on the south Millennium Park parking lot, currently home to the Farmers Market.
“We anticipate a really good relationship with the Farmers Market,” said CVCHS spokesperson Rita Scott. “They can certainly use the land until it’s needed, and that could be quite a long time.”
Construction of what Scott said is much-needed rental housing for families is dependent on provincial funding. But the land acquisition is a key step in getting approval.
“It has been a real challenge,” she said. “We looked at many other possible sites. Now we will work with architect Christine Ross to try to be really innovative and be environmentally responsible.”
Creston mayor Ron Toyota said the town’s partnership role is similar to the one undertaken to facilitate construction of Crestbrook Gardens, the low-cost seniors’ housing project that opened south of the railway tracks last year.
“Like that site, we will still need a geo-tech study because it was the sawmill property,” Toyota said. “This is an important project because it addresses the housing needs of families. The housing society has done a tremendous amount of work, including a needs and demands survey, to get to this stage.”
Scott said local volunteers are committed to a quality project “that won’t look like crap in three years. Having really good local management in place will be our strength.”
She said the society’s relationship with the town has been positive, and enhanced by town manager Lou Varella’s experience in planning.
Scott said that Creston’s lack of affordable family housing should help push the project’s funding needs to be addressed by the province.
“But we really need the support of the community to do this,” she said. “There will never be enough money from the government, so we will need to ask for in-kind donations of labour and goods. And for money, of course.
“We are really excited to actually nail down a site, and looking forward to answering public questions and exchanging ideas.”
A public meeting is being planned for Feb. 19 at the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“Low cost housing is critical for families that struggle with income, to enable them to afford the other things beyond rent that keeps body and soul together,” Scott said. “It gives families a hand up and allows them to be part of a community so they can give as well as get.”