The residents of Silversea – the condominium complex beside the old Travelodge property on the Old Island Highway – are concerned over the possibility of the now-vacant hotel next door becoming a low-income housing facility.
The province purchased the Travelodge property as part of a plan to create 18 new low-income housing facilities province-wide. The Campbell River facility will house 40 units of housing for low-income individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and for people who suffer from mental health and substance use issues, according to a release from BC Housing.
Nick Illich, who chairs a subcommittee of concerned Silversea residents, says they have been “left in the dark” as to what, exactly, that will look like. They also want the city to slow down the process so they can have their say before it’s too far along in the process for it to be stopped.
“We don’t know what the heck’s going on,” Illich says. “We were just informed last week that this is going in and we have some serious concerns. Some of us are pretty angry. We’ve got little kids and seniors here, and the last thing we want to see is spent needles and broken beer bottles on the ground around the building.”
He says they are hoping to get some answers at a meeting Wednesday night with the M’Akola Housing Society – who will operate the housing facility – along with representatives from the city, “and we applied to city hall to make a presentation before council and basically was told to wait until after that meeting to see if we want to proceed with that.”
But he expects he’ll be told at that meeting it’s not the city’s jurisdiction.
“I realize that city council can’t very well do much, since it’s more of a provincial thing, but we’d sure like them to slow this down if they can until we know exactly what we’re looking at. They have the power to slow this thing down instead of letting it bulldoze through.”
Besides safety, another of their concerns has to do with their property value. The condos in Silversea sell in the neighbourhood of $300,000 each when they go on the market, Illich says, “and units go in a matter of days when they are listed. This is one of the nicest buildings in Campbell River.”
But he claims that’s already changed since the province’s announcement.
“There was one unit in here that had three potential buyers and when they heard about this low-income housing thing last week all three bids were withdrawn,” Illich says. “Are we going to get our taxes reduced because our property values are going down?”
Kevin Albers, CEO of M’Akola Housing Society says he understands the concerns of the neighbours and appropriate steps will be taken to address various safety issues.
“We are reviewing various models of management; however, we have not confirmed the model we will be using,” Albers says. “As with all our affordable housing projects, management is provided and performed by our staff, and contractors which does include after hours security and emergency response.
“We currently have security patrols at this affordable housing project,” he continues. “The scope of work for health and safety upgrades is being developed with fencing on either side of the property being considered.”
Albers also clarifies that the facility will be purely a housing block. There will be no social services offered at the location.
“The floor plans and number of units will remain as they are now. This is an affordable housing project for singles and couples,” Albers says. “An assessment of the affordable housing project is underway which will provide us with appropriate direction to make necessary upgrades to health and safety,” but because there will be no multi-room units, there will be no families or children.
“M’akola Housing Society follows the National Occupancy Standards,” Albers says. “This determines the number of bedrooms required for a household based on size and composition. Based on these standards only one individual can occupy a bachelor unit. A parent and child cannot share a room.”
There is currently no timeline on the completion of the renovations and getting the facility operational in its new capacity.
“At this time, we have not completed the scope of work and therefore we have not determined an actual timeline. Much of the schedule will be dependent on the availability of sub-trades and the amount of work required,” Albers says.