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Lakeside Place gets provincial funding nod from BC Housing

The development at Lakeside Place has been several years in the making.

One of the city’s two major affordable housing proposed projects could be moving ahead.

Late last week it was announced by BC Housing that the 48-unit Lakeside Place project was approved for provincial funding, but the Kootenay Christian Fellowship’s SHARE initiative was not among them. Although no funding amount for the project had been revealed, the province has earmarked $516 million for 68 projects across B.C., with Lakeside Place among them.

The new Lakeside Place project will be aimed at alleviating the affordable housing stress on two facets of Nelson’s population. Lakeside Place will be a three-storey structure for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

The building would help provide homes for those who are pushed to the fringe of the spectrum in the search for affordable housing situations said Jenny Robinson, executive director for Nelson Cares, when she publicly presented the project late last year.

“The vacancy rates are so low in Nelson and have been consistently that we don’t think it’s a blip, we think it is an ongoing issue for the community,” she said.

The proposed project would support people in the community with a demonstrated need, she said, like seniors. A wait list of almost 100 sits at Cedar Grove Estates — and only 22 units are available for seniors at that site.

The group is looking at the redevelopment of the four buildings to the south of the site which currently consist of 20 residential units. The other buildings on the site were constructed in the 1950s as a motel, converted in 2001 to affordable housing units. The building at the north end of the site would be retained, where eight residential units were built in 2001.

The proposed redevelopment would consist of one new building that would be three stories in height. That development could accommodate 39 residential units that would consist of 33 one-bedroom units (570 square feet in size), along with six supportive housing studios (350 sq. ft.).

Full capital cost is sitting at just over $7.5 million, and Nelson Cares is looking at an equity investment from BC Housing at just over $5 million.

The development at Lakeside Place has been several years in the making. In 2012 Nelson Cares took on the assets of the Nelson and District Housing Society — a move accepted by BC Housing.

However, the one condition was to pursue the redevelopment of Lakeside Place. That concept has been on the books for four years, said the chair of the Nelson Cares board, Ron Little.

In anticipation of new provincial funding, Nelson Cares began the planning of the redevelopment in 2014. City Spaces consulting was hired at the beginning of 2015 to look into the property at Lakeside Place, and completed a sensibility study for its redevelopment.

Overdue at the library

The members of the city’s university centre education society have asked the city to assume ownership of the remains of Nelson’s university library collection.

Morgan Dehnel, president of the Nelson University Centre (NUC) Education Society, has asked the city to take over the 50,000-volume David Thompson Library Collection.

“The ethical and right thing to do is the collection reverts back to the city if the society dissolves,” he said. “This is simply a request for storage, not accessibility.”

He requested the City of Nelson store the library collection and seek ways to put the collection to an appropriate academic use. The ownership of the collection will remain with the NUC until it proposes to dissolve or to sell or to move the collection.

City staff will be contacting the NUC about the range of possibilities for the collection.

The collection garnered national attention after the B.C. Ministry of Education announced closure of the David Thompson University Centre in 1984 in Nelson, and citizens staged a 10-week occupation of the library.

At the time, David Thompson was the only university in B.C. outside of Vancouver and Victoria— the Social Credit government also closed the city’s predecessor, Notre Dame University in 1977 after 27 years of operation.

The library grew along with the university, starting with around 30,000 books, ending with around 50,000 volumes in storage.

After several years of trying to restart a university in the city, the NUC had to resort to mothballing the library and its collection in 2005, after a “wholesale despoliation” of the library.

The library had to be moved several times over the next few years.