KAMLOOPS — The City of Kamloops is taking a couple giants steps forward in the battle to create more affordable housing, confirming on Tuesday it's purchased two separate parcels of land for the purpose of developing low-income housing.
The properties were purchased at a total cost of $3.55 million, and they include a series of lots the city purchase from the Kelson Group on St. Paul Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, and another two lots on Tranquille Road.
"The two purchases are part of the city's commitment to provide land for affordable housing purposes with the province," said City of Kamloops CAO David Trawin.
A major announcement will come from the province on Wednesday, detailing an affordable housing project on Tranquille. Mayor Ken Christian said the purchases are in locations suitable for people who would be utilizing the affordable units.
"One of the things you have to realize when you're looking at affordable housing sites is, are they close to the kinds of services that the occupants are going to be needing? Are they close to transit? Are they close to some of the social agencies that people in affordable housing often rely on? Those kinds of properties don't come up all that often, and when they do we want to be aware," said Christian.
Christian says the issue of affordability, while more dire in places like the Lower Mainland, is still a major concern in Kamloops and other Interior communities. Ultimately, Christian wants to end homelessness.
"I think it's the goal of every mayor in British Columbia and across Canada," he noted. "The scourge of housing affordability is really affecting our cities and our communities, and so it's not totally the responsibility of cities but good cities take an active role in terms of participating and finding a solution."
The city has multiple properties it's purchased waiting for provincial funding.
In June 2015, the province and city announced 98 affordable unit at three locations around the city, but it's a project that never got off the ground.
Trawin says the properties remain in the city's hands, and all that's needed is the green light from the province.
"We do have planning, and it says we're short 2,000 units in terms of dealing with the affordability housing perspective," said Trawin. "That's not just 2,000 for the homeless. That's 2,000 units for working people that don't have the income to spend more than 30% of their income on housing. So we have a long ways to go."
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