CRD chair Steve Price, Saanich South MLA Lana Popham and CRD director David Screech put their best shovel forward during a groundbreaking ceremony on the Westview affordable housing complex on Carey Road near the Campus of Care.                                 Wolf Depner/News Staff

CRD chair Steve Price, Saanich South MLA Lana Popham and CRD director David Screech put their best shovel forward during a groundbreaking ceremony on the Westview affordable housing complex on Carey Road near the Campus of Care. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Affordable housing project breaks ground in Saanich

The Westview project under construction off Carey Road will add 73 housing units

Local officials promise a new Saanich housing project now under construction will improve the affordable housing supply, while tempering expectations.

The Westview project now under construction near the Campus of Care off Carey Road adds 73 housing units for seniors, adults with disabilities, working singles and families, in a four-storey building.

See: CRD proposes affordable housing on Mount View site of Carey Road

“This is going to allow individuals and families to find more affordable housing that currently doesn’t exist at the moment,” said Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell. “We have got this very low vacancy rate we have had for many, many, many years, so the more that can be built in the right location in harmony with the neighbourhood, the better for us, and the local economy here in Saanich that is supported by a level of affordable housing.”

With interest rates low and governments once again investing resources into housing after their retrenchment in previous decades, this is the ideal time to build more projects like this, he said.

Atwell acknowledged that Wednesday’s announcement represents just a start in predicting that more buildings of this sort will appear in the future as Saanich continues to grapple with the “affordability crisis” that currently grips the area.

Other speakers offered similar comments after a ground-breaking ceremony that included Sidney Mayor Steve Price, who also chairs the Capital Regional District (CRD), View Royal Mayor David Screech, who sits on the board of the Capital Regional Housing Corporation (CRHC), and Couns. Judy Brownoff and Susan Brice.

“It’s a start,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South.“It’s not going to solve the problem of affordability, but it is definitely going to give options for people who don’t have any right now.”

Popham said she is glad the project will have mixed uses, including four three-bedroom apartments aimed at families.

“There is already a neighbourhood with a playground,” she said. “Putting housing in an established neighbourhood is very important for the health of the residents who are going to have this for a new home site.”

Other housing types include studios (11), one-bedroom apartments (38) and two-bedroom apartments (20).

Sixteen units will rent at the provincial shelter rate of $375 per month. Monthly rents for the other units will range from about $550 per month to $1,950, depending on unit size.

The project itself is a joint project between the provincial government, CRHC and the Living Housing Society.

The total value is more than $20 million, with $15.7 million coming from the province in the form of direct financing and construction financing. CRHC supplies the land, valued at $4.5 million, and $1 million in cash equity.

Current plans call for the building to open in early 2020.