Victoria’s council made a statement at their Aug. 27 meeting by agreeing to give $112,000 towards Cool Aid Housing Society’s new Cottage Grove development at 3207 to 3223 Quadra St. in Saanich.
It signals a bold move by Victoria as the precious money – which comes from a city that is not overly flush with funds – is going outside of its own borders and into Saanich, as the building will sit one block north of the Tolmie Avenue border.
But Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said it only makes sense.
“If you look at it from an economic point of view, Cottage Grove will house 45 less people that police and bylaw officers have to wake up in [Victoria] parks, 45 less people who could wake up in the hospital with two police beside them as escorts,” Helps said. “There’s no better way to demonstrate municipal leadership than to partner with our next-door neighbour.”
The designs for the Cottage Grove apartments are complete, the building permit has been applied for and construction for the 45-unit building is expected to start by November. It will house seniors who are currently homeless.
“[Victoria is where] most of the future [Cottage Grove] tenants currently live…” said Cool Aid executive director Kathy Stinson. “It’s fairly groundbreaking for Victoria to be giving money outside [their community]. It shows their commitment to ending homelessness, hats off to them.”
The grant matches dollar for dollar what Saanich council agreed to provide last year.
Cool Aid operates 374 apartments in the Capital Region for people who have been homeless. Cottage Grove is the first 45 of 360 units Cool Aid plans to build in the next three years. It will be the society’s 11th building and fourth devoted to seniors.
To meet the expected $7.4 million cost of Cottage Grove, Cool Aid is relying on a grant from the CRD for $675,000, as well as the $112,000 from each Saanich and Victoria. They’re confident the province will meet the remaining costs, Stinson said.
“Housing is an issue that doesn’t stop at municipal boundaries and this particular building is just a few metres away from the Victoria-Saanich border,” said Saanich Coun. Fred Haynes, who also sits on the CRD’s Regional Housing Trust Fund Commission board with Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton Joe, who was one of the eight Victoria councillors who voted in favour.
“It makes such good sense for the two cities to collaborate on this, I have nothing but admiration for this bold move.”
Haynes added this helps open the door to future collaboration of funds towards projects such as Cool Aid’s, but said it would have to be done on a case-by-case basis.
Construction for Cottage Grove will likely last one year and Stinson expects residents to move in around January 2017. The building will be staffed with five full-time and two attached and casual staff.
Stinson said Cool Aid’s next project could be announced within a few months. It will be in Victoria, a repurposing of an existing building. To build all 360 units Cool Aid aims to raise $5 million.