Affordable housing plan signals new attitude

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
January 22, 2018 - 5:30am Updated: January 22, 2018 - 11:09am

KAMLOOPS — A new plan for affordable housing in Kamloops is impressive in its scope, but also notable for something else — buy-in from the community.

The City, ASK Wellness, the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Housing, the provincial government, and business associations are all onside with the purchase of property — at a cost of $3.5 million — on both the North and South Shore, and the manufacture of modular rental units for two locations.

I can think of no other time in Kamloops’ history that a vision for affordable housing has been either so extensive or so broadly accepted.

I can, however, recall times when the community has been anything but united. There was, for example, the bitter Victory Inn controversy some 16 years ago when residents around Mackenzie Avenue rose up and vowed to stop that project from being built in their neighbourhood.

Their argument was sound — too many social service projects were being established there — and they won the day. The John Howard Society instead built the Victory Inn on Halston Avenue.

Even the thought of ASK Wellness putting its offices on Tranquille Road brought objections from some merchants back in the day.

And then, of course, just this year there’s been the fiasco of the Stuart Wood shelter brought about by lack of consultation.

Consultation will be the secret of success for this new plan. So far, everybody’s on board, including both the Kamloops Central BIA and North Shore BIA.

The North Shore business group, often cautious about such things, calls it a “bold step toward resolving some of our long standing affordable housing issues in Kamloops.”

Clearly, not all Tranquille Road merchants are of that opinion, and the BIA knows it, sending out a message to members about the difficulties of change.

But the fact the BIA itself has come out in clear support signals an exciting new co-operative attitude toward affordable housing solutions in Kamloops.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops. He blogs at ArmchairMayor.ca.

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