Denman Green Affordable Housing Project – Update
Submitted by Denman Housing Association
Affordable housing has been a longstanding need and issue on Denman Island. Studies in 2008, 2013 and most recently in 2018 all confirmed an acute need for affordable housing. The needs are diverse including families, singles and seniors. The Denman Community Land Trust Association (DCLTA) is working hard to address the need for affordable housing for seniors. We applaud their efforts in this regard. The Denman Housing Association (DHA) is focussed more on younger singles, couples and families and is working to create a 20-unit affordable housing project in ‘downtown’ Denman.
Many of you are probably wondering if the Denman Green project will ever happen; we have been at this for many years. While there are many hoops yet to jump through, the good news is that we are steadily advancing.
We are writing to provide you with a summary of the project and an update on our progress.
20 affordable housing units on the old Rawganique property opposite the Community Hall, playground and school on one side and the Seniors’ Activity Centre on the other – corner of Kirk and Northwest Roads
The rental units will likely be 10 X 1 bed, 6 X 2 bed and 4 X 3 bed in several buildings – two purely accommodation and one also containing a common use area, laundry and service/utility rooms
The site is large so there will ample green space and an area that will likely be made into a pond
This site is an ideal setting for affordable housing, but does require rezoning.
Two weeks ago, working in conjunction with the Islands Trust planner and our local Trustees, we took the first step in our application to rezone 1151 Northwest Road from Commercial to R4(1) Affordable Housing. This first reading of the necessary bylaw amendments is a critical and complicated step.
As most of you will be aware, water is a key issue for any new project on the islands. Our group’s first attempt to secure land for affordable housing was not successful, primarily due to the lack of water. Because of this experience, we are being extra diligent to ensure we have a good water plan.
Key features of our plan include:
The plan was developed by a mechanical engineer working together with a professional hydrogeologist
The well was determined to have a sufficient year-round yield to meet the daily water needs of Denman Green
Mindful of the potential impact of climate change in the future, we are planning a rainwater harvesting and treatment system that is capable of supplying 50% of the potable water needs of the project.
Water management will be enhanced by utilizing low-flow fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens and by treating greywater from showers and basins before using it for toilet flushing
Our application to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations (FLNRO) for a water license is currently being reviewed. We are hopeful that it will be issued early in the next year.
The water plan has been reviewed by Island Health and is now with the Trust’s Freshwater Specialist for review.
A wastewater assessment of the Denman Green site, carried out by H2O Environmental, concluded that the site has the capacity to treat the calculated volume of effluent and meet all regulatory standards. The septic field will likely be located in the SE corner of the site.
Site and Building Design
We have retained a local architect (MacDonald Hagarty) with signifcant BC Housing experience to help us develop a site plan and schematic design for the buildings.
In addition to building locations, driveway access, parking and more, the site plan will also inform water and wastewater system designs, landscape design and other work aimed at making Denman Green visually attractive and a pleasant place in which to live. The site will also feature a photovoltaic (PV) array to reduce hydro consumption and will incorporate the storage cisterns for our rainwater harvesting system.
So how will we afford to build Denman Green? BC Housing is likely to be the primary funding agency, providing both a grant as well as ongoing financing for the project. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) may also be a funding source and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) may provide funding for the incremental costs associated with enhanced sustainability measures, such as our rainwater harvesting. Of course there will also be a mortgage that is paid off over many years since full grant funding is not available.
The key points of our upcoming work are as follows:
We will continue to work diligently with Islands Trust, Island Health and Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations, to complete the rezoning and obtain other necessary approvals on time for the BC Housing application.
Develop the site plan and building design with the assistance of our architect and other design team members.
We will also obtain the assistance of contractors to help develop a budget based on the design, all aimed at an anticipated funding application to BC Housing in June of 2022. This is a very competitive process – we hear that in the last round BC Housing funding was approved for only 500 out of a possible 3,000 units.
We will be meeting next month with the Denman Community Land Trust Association to trade insights and lessons learned in this complex process. It is important that we support each other in our joint mission to create affordable housing on Denman Island.
As you can see, while we are making progress, there is much left to do. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. You can call at (335 2559) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.