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Community support for “Building Together” project

Community support for “Building Together” project

Over 40 members of the public attended Sechelt’s Dec. 8 online public hearing to submit and hear comments on Sunshine Coast Community Services Society’s (SCCSS) proposal to redevelop its Inlet Avenue property. Only four individuals outside of SCCSS representatives spoke at the event. All expressed support for reworking the site to construct a building that will offer affordable housing and space for SCCSS programming.
SCCSS’s proposal is to have a six-storey structure on the property, with the top four floors containing 34 apartments that range from studio to three-bedroom units. These units are to be available to women and women with children in need of affordable rentals. A public hearing was required as the application will need a zoning amendment to increase the building height to 22 metres. Sechelt’s policy is to limit building heights in the area of the SCCSS lot to three storeys or 12 metres.
The society’s lot includes BC Hydro transmission lines. As permanent structures are not permitted to be built under those lines, a higher but smaller footprint building is being planned for. SCCSS Executive Director, Catherine Leach, noted that the proposed design also retains space for community gardens and outdoor enjoyment spaces on the site.
Members of the public who addressed the hearing focused on the wide range of community benefits the project will provide. The dire state of rental housing availability on the Coast was mentioned, highlighting that rentals with two or three bedrooms were extremely scarce. The need for small rental units with easy access to services like meal programs as well as counselling and support for daily living to house young women and seniors was identified by several speakers.
There were also comments on the need for expanded spaces to support the work of SCCSS. The benefits of having the full range of programs available to the entire community in a central space near transit services was pointed out.
It is anticipated that comments from the public hearing will be summarized for council to consider further readings of the bylaw at a meeting in January. Once third reading is granted, SCCSS will be required to meet its commitments to enable the property’s rezoning. These are related to property servicing requirements, such as sidewalks and sewer connections. After approval by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the bylaw will go back to council for consideration of adoption. Connie Jordison

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