Federal housing tour makes Saanich stop

Federal minister joins B.C. housing minister and Saanich mayor on visit to Cottage Grove site on Quadra Street

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell speaks about affordable housing at Cottage Grove in Saanich. Sitting are Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins

The under-construction Cottage Grove site on Quadra Street hosted federal and provincial government representatives on Tuesday as the federal Liberals continued the tour following the June 26 announcement the federal government will focus its $150 million commitment on affordable housing in B.C.

Jean-Yves Duclos, the federal minister of families, children and social development, and the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman spoke at the soon-to-be completed Cottage Grove supportive seniors housing development at 3207 Quadra St.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell was among the local politicians who also attended the event, hosted by the Victoria Cool Aid Society.

“This facility is a great location with access to community services, transportation and shopping in Saanich,” Atwell said. “I want to thank the City of Victoria… and recognize Victoria’s mayor and council on [this joint venture], for making a difference with those less fortunate, who more often than not, find refuge in Victoria’s downtown core…I hope this is not the last, as mental health and addiction know no boundaries.”

The late-afternoon affair was much calmer than the affordable housing forum Duclos and Coleman attended later Tuesday at the Hotel Grand Pacific.

Vic PD turned away a group of more than 30 protesters who were in support of additional affordable housing and attempted to enter the hotel. Some became aggressive, engaging in a minor scuffle with hotel staff and police.

“Some of the protesters needed to be calmed down, our patrol units did not let them in as the hotel was booked for a private function,” said Vic PD Const. Matt Rutherford.

The protesters then marched to the tent city that continues to exist on Victoria’s courthouse lawn.

The 45-unit Cottage Grove is expected to open in early 2017, and is designed for older adults who’ve experienced homelessness or are homeless. It will also offer residents a variety of in-house support services such as medication monitoring and life skills programs. Residents will also be connected to mental health and addictions services. The building will feature a lounge, dining area and communal laundry area.

A key priority is to have rent at Cottage Grove in line with social assistance shelter allowance rates.

Funding for Cottage Grove comes from a spectrum of groups, the provincial and federal Canada-B.C. Investment in Affordable Housing ($6 million), the CRD ($675,000), Saanich ($112,000) and Victoria ($112,000).

Cool Aid initiated the project with funds and generous donations from individuals, businesses and foundations who contributed to the region’s Help End Homelessness capital campaign.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins represented the CRD Capital Housing on Tuesday, praising Cottage Grove as a critical piece in the region’s progress towards more affordable and supporting housing.

The CRD Regional Housing trust fund has contributed $10 million over the last 10 years to create 875 units of affordable housing throughout the region.

“[Cottage Grove] is an excellent project and addresses a real need in the region for affordable housing,” Desjardins said.

In May, the CRD and province contributed $30 million each towards a $60 million fund for affordable or supportive housing projects in the region.


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