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Housing co-operative open house on Nov. 30 in Ucluelet

Come and learn on Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Ucluelet Community Centre
Kayakers paddle out at Ucluelet’s Little Beach. (Westerly file photo)

Is a housing co-operative the solution to Ucluelet’s affordable housing woes?

A steadfast group of longtime locals think a co-operative model could be the right fit for the community, and they are inviting business owners and those struggling with housing to participate in an Open House this Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Ucluelet Community Centre.

“How do you grow and develop your business if you can’t secure housing for your own employees? This (co-operative housing) takes the guess work out of that,” said Randy Oliwa, a former Ucluelet councillor, owner of Little Beach Resort, and the president of the Pac Rim Home Development Co-operative (PRHDC).

Oliwa says the concept of a co-operative, non-market housing development has been floating around Ucluelet for the past 20 years. In a nutshell, he describes the co-operative model as being “organized, facilitated and run by the business community to house their employees”.

“There are examples of this in the community and it’s Seaview Seniors Housing Society. (Twenty-five years ago), the district came forward and gave the land. One dollar, 99 years… Boom. BC Assessment put a covenant on it so it doesn’t go up and down. Same type of concept here,” he said.

Most recently, the PRHDC received a federal housing planning grant, putting them in a position to hire professionals to push forward with their proposal. Oliwa told the Westerly that Green Violin, a sustainable housing development company, was contracted to do asset mapping of the Peninsula based on 40 units of non-market housing.

“If we were going to build 40 units of housing and the land was free or a million dollars, he’s doing up the budget for that,” said Oliwa.

Any business owner that wants to help this project come to life is encouraged to attend the Nov. 30 Open House. PRHDC is member based.

“Maybe you don’t need housing, but you want to help the movement, the social enterprise. You can become a lifetime member for $100,” he said. For a $500 membership investment, Oliwa says that would secure a unit of housing in the proposed co-operative housing.

“I’m confident that we have something attainable here. Come and learn,” Oliwa urges.

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