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Tofino Housing Corporation puts duplexes on hold, questions affordability

Project halted after only one applicant receives pre-approved mortgage for the $699,000 purchase

The Tofino Housing Corporation has put a plan to build two duplexes on hold after coming up short on successful applicants.

Tofino Housing Corporation Executive Director Ian Scott presented to council during Nov. 8’s regular meeting.

He said that THC’s plan to build two three-bedroom duplexes, each with a secondary suite attached, was halted after only one of the eight applicants provided a pre-approved mortgage for the $699,000 purchase cost.

“It looks like the price was too high…We received feedback that three bedrooms is just too large for many households in Tofino for those who are looking for this potential purchase opportunity,” he said. “We were certainly hit by rising construction costs, which didn’t allow us to keep the price as low as we maybe had initially hoped and then the double whammy of high interest rates, which affects the borrowing power of purchasers.”

The THC is heading into the final year of its 2021-2023 strategic plan with a mission to develop below-market housing and successfully completed its first development this year with its 14-unit Creekside building.

A 35-unit apartment complex dubbed Headwaters North is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023 and a 37-unit apartment building. Headwaters expected to be completed in early 2024.

The THC has proposed further development in the the same District Lot 114 area, but has run into community concerns around the loss of trees and peace at Tonquin Park.

Scott said THC is planning an orientation session in early December to bring Tofino’s new councillors up to speed on its projects and plans.

Scott noted that THC received $180,000 from the Municipal, Regional and District Tax, a far cry from the $2.3 million Tourism Tofino received. He said the THC receives a portion of the tax from local Airbnbs while Tourism Tofino receives its share from hotels and resorts.

“I can’t help but note the large discrepancy between what we get from MRDT and Tourism Tofino,” he said.

“I know we’ve had discussions about that in the past, but I think it’s important to note the extreme disparity between $2.3 million and $180,000.”

Tofino mayor Dan Law congratulated Scott for the THC’s “tremendous success” and said he looks forward to seeing the THC’s future proposals.

Coun. Tom Stere agreed.

“We have 34 people housed at Creekside and I think the construction beginning (at Headwater) are real successes and shows the work and dedication that Tofino Housing Corporation has done,” he said.

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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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