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Local leaders cheer affordable housing progress in Tofino

Stakeholders tour construction site that will soon provide 37 affordable housing units
Local leaders and community stakeholders cheerfully toured through a construction site at 363 Peterson Drive on Friday, March 10, that will soon be home to 37 affordable housing units being built through a partnership between the Tofino Housing Corporation and Catalyst Community Development Society. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Local leaders and community stakeholders beamed in hard hats and high visibility vests as they toured through a construction site that will soon provide 37 affordable housing units in Tofino.

“I’m here today to help celebrate with the community this success, this milestone, about the Headwaters North Housing Development and all the success that Tofino has had in building affordable, adequate, safe, secure homes for the people who make this community what it is,” Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne told the Westerly News at 363 Peterson Drive, the future site of a three-storey apartment building.

“I want to say thank you to business leaders, to past and present community leaders, to the staffs, to the Tofino Housing Corporation and to Catalyst Community Development Society for the sheer perseverance that it’s taken to get this. I think we have so much to be proud of. It is the first rental apartment building that we’ve built in over 40 years and we are making a huge difference in people’s lives. We never should forget that.”

The project was funded with about $4.15 million from BC Housing, $1.85 from the federal government, $440,000 from the Tofino Housing Corporation, $98,000 from Catalyst Community Development Society and the District of Tofino providing the land, valued at $952,000, according to a recent media release announcing the project.

Osborne was Tofino’s mayor while the housing development moved through the district’s zoning processes and she acknowledged concerns raised by community members around tree removal and neighbourhood impacts.

“I think people are so proud to call Tofino their home and we really value this beautiful place that we live in and we want to make sure that we’re making sustainable decisions. That goes not just for the environment, but also for people. So we had to have some difficult conversations about developing in a forested area and the trade-offs that needed to be made,” she said. “Tofino has long faced these challenges and we know that it’s important to provide homes for people so that they have the safety and security so that they can continue the good work that we all need to do to take care of this place. Those challenging conversations around funding sources, around location, around traffic and impacts to the neighbourhood were all very sensitive to those things, but in the end I think we took a very balanced approach to this.”

She added the project will help ease the stress residents often face about their housing situation.

“Knowing that you don’t have to do the ‘Tofino shuffle’ because you’ve got an affordable home that is yours, helps build community, supports our economy and is something that we’ve long envisioned. So it’s really exciting to see the work that’s been done to date,” she said.

Tofino mayor Dan Law told the Westerly that Osborne was a key advocate for the project’s success.

“This is years and years in the making and it wouldn’t be possible without help from the province, BC Housing and certainly it wouldn’t have gotten here without our local champion. When Josie was the mayor she really did champion this project and as our MLA she’s carried that stoke forward and is part of the reason this is happening,” he said. “This is going to be transformative for our community. So many people are going to be able to live in secure, affordable housing and not have to worry about eviction or losing their housing. It’s a fantastic project and I’m excited to see it happening.”

He added he was happy to see “so many beautiful trees” while touring the site.

“I know that the contractors and designers tried hard to keep as much forest intact,” he said.

“It’s a delicate balance. We obviously need housing but at the same time we have to preserve, protect and restore our natural assets. The forest and the biosphere around here is really the jewel of the region. It is a delicate balance and something we have to think about as a community. I’m pleased to see that, so far, we’ve been able to work that together and hopefully we’ll see that relationship moving forward.”

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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