More affordable housing in Fernie could soon become a reality as the Fernie Family Housing Society has received necessary funding from BC Housing for a new building complex.
The funding they received will allow them to construct a proposed 35-unit apartment block and 14 row houses in the vacant lot adjacent to Tom Uphill Manor (between Isabella Dicken Elementary School and Tom Uphill Manor).
The funding provided by BC Housing is part of a new provincial housing fund which aims at assisting independent families and seniors. This fund, known as the Building BC: Community Housing Fund, is an investment of close to $1.9 billion over 10 years to develop 14,350 units of mixed-income, affordable rental housing for independent families and seniors.
In 2007 the City of Fernie conducted an affordable housing survey to determine the needs of the City’s most vulnerable. The survey was updated in 2017, confirming that the current greatest need for affordable housing in Fernie is for low income families, independent seniors, singles and those with disabilities.
FFHS anticipates that they will be holding an open house for community consultation in January after preliminary building and site plans have been developed, and a rezoning application will be submitted soon afterwards.
Looking back, FFHS was formed in 2000 with the primary goal of working with BC Housing to create an affordable housing project in Fernie for low income families, seniors and people with disabilities. In 2001, FFHS opened New Horizon Village, a 32-unit townhouse complex.
FFHS General Manager, Sheila Sherburne explained that the success of New Horizon Village inspired them to approach the government in 2004 to allow them to purchase the Tom Uphill Memorial Home which was being made redundant by the construction of Rocky Mountain Village. Their plan was to renovate the building to create a 27-unit one-story apartment building for seniors and people with disabilities who are able to live independently with minimal supports. The newly renovated Tom Uphill Manor was opened on October 1, 2006.
The purchase of Tom Uphill included the building, the property it sits on and an adjacent vacant acre of land.
In 2017 the society started planning for a new affordable housing project to be constructed in the vacant lot. Since November of last year they have been working with planners to create an affordable mix of housing on that location.
Now that they have the funding, the society’s dream could soon become a reality.
“The Fernie Family Housing Society is most appreciative of the assistance that we have received from the City of Fernie and the development grants which the provincial government and Columbia Basin Trust have made available to us over the last 12 months,” said Sherburne.
“Without their support our project would have never have seen fruition.”