An aerial view of Cortes Island’s Seniors Village. ( Photo/Bill Weaver)

An aerial view of Cortes Island’s Seniors Village. ( Photo/Bill Weaver)

Cortes Island affordable housing project hangs by a thread

Regional decision makers resort to COVID-19 concerns despite virtual meeting option and push hearing to September

The trend of delaying Cortes Island businesses on the SRD table continues.

This time it could cost the small island community, with a population of 1,000, a multi-million dollar affordable housing project amidst a housing crisis on Cortes.

Cortes Community Housing’s Rainbow Ridge project might face additional challenges after Strathcona Regional District (SRD) board postponed all public hearings for land management until September.

The public hearing requested by Cortes Island Seniors Society (CISS) for rezoning of the 22-unit rental homes proposal was rescheduled from April 30, to June 25 due to the pandemic.

However, at the board meeting held on May 27, regional directors refused to participate in any in-person public hearing citing COVID-19 concerns.

Cortes representative to SRD, Noba Anderson, stressed that the process was urgent for CISS to take forward the proposal to B.C Housing after it called for submissions May 21 onwards.

Noba volunteered to be the sole SRD director physically present at the public hearing at Mansons Hall on Cortes Island and suggested that other regional directors could join the meeting remotely.

But a suggestion to participate virtually, approved by the provincial government after the onset of the pandemic, was also declined by the regional directors on the Electoral Areas Services Committees, Brenda Leigh, Gerald Whaley and Jim Abram.

The land for Rainbow Ridge project, which CISS purchased through fundraising, is located adjacent to the Seniors Village site.

An expansion project adding four more homes to the Seniors Village received funding from B.C. Housing in 2018 and is currently under construction.

Rainbow Ridge is a further attempt by the community to add 20-22 more affordable homes for not just seniors but for families and households struggling to make ends meet on Cortes Island.

In a letter to the SRD on May 25, Elizabeth Anderson from CISS appealed to the board to “support the recommendation of SRD staff” to hold a “modified public hearing,” in June.

Elizabeth also emphasized the “extremely competitive,” nature of the funding call, given the deep need for affordable housing across B.C.

There is also no indication by B.C. Housing whether there will be a funding intake next year, placing the project at a huge risk of losing out on a chance for provincial funding.

This is not the first time that SRD has delayed Cortes projects. Last year in May, the board delayed the approval of grants-in-aid for Cortes organizations.

READ MORE: More Cortes Island business delayed at SRD table

Noba called the deferment of the public hearing “a huge disservice” to a major community effort.

“If we’re risking a multi-million, community-driven project over ill-founded health concerns and politics, it is rather unfortunate,” Noba said.

BC HousingCortes Islandmunicipal politicsseniors housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht man by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht on Feb. 27. (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Police have killed more TFN members than COVID has,’ First Nation demands transparency in Tofino RCMP shooting investigation

Julian Jones, a 28 year-old Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation man was shot and killed by police on Feb. 27.

Blue Crush Concierge co-owners Ashley Wells and Erika Greenland, pictured here following COVID-19 social distancing alongside their dogs Hank and Lady Bird, are up for two SBBC awards. (Photo courtesy of Erika Greenland)
Three Tofino companies up for Small Business BC Awards

Tofino Kombucha, Blue Crush Concierge and Surf Sister all received nomination honours.

Fish and Loaves Humane Society volunteers Bobby Burns, left, and John Enns, right, receive Volunteer Recognition Awards from acting mayor Duncan McMaster during the free food hand out at the Tofino Legion on Feb.24. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino Fish and Loaves volunteers Enns and Burns cheered for community service

“He’s a very conscientious and hard-working, giving volunteer.”

Ucluelet CAO Mark Boysen has resigned his position and is heading south-Island. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet CAO Mark Boysen resigns

Mayor Mayco Noel says he and his council “completely caught off guard”

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March. 6. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino councillor candidates identify differences

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new municipal councillors on March 6.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read