Maple Ridge's housing crunch will be eased in two years by having another 60 affordable apartments, when a new building opens on 119th Avenue and 228th Street.
Thanks to $11 million from BC Housing, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services will construct a new building on the site of its present offices, on which it has recently paid off the mortgage.
With BC Housing funds covering the cost of the housing units above, community services then will pay for its new offices on the ground floor.
That will allow staff to get out of the cramped, modular buildings where they've been located for years.
"We used to get offended when people referred to them as trailers," said Vicki Kipps, executive-director of community services.
The new building will allow a "phenomenal, integrated model," of delivering services, with the programs offered on the ground floor to residents above, if they need them.
Community service has been developing partnerships for years with others in the city and started a building task force four years ago, Kipps said.
"When this announcement came up we absolutely leveraged some of those partners that we had already developed."
The design and number of storeys and final cost remains to be determined. "We have to figure all that out by the end of March."
That's when a complete, housing design concept by CPA Development Consultants will be filed with BC Housing.
"Affordable housing for families, seniors and individuals who are living in situations of poverty and we're very proud that Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows has the opportunity to continue to meet the needs of vulnerable citizens in our community," Kipps added in a release.
Community Services offers an array of programs such as an anxiety/depression group, youth mental health outreach, Meals on Wheels, family counselling, among several others.
With a new building, some of the programs that are now being offered off-site, can be offered in the new building.
The $11 million is part of the $516 million for affordable housing, announced by the B.C. government in November. Initially, there were no projects in Maple Ridge, but now there will be two, with another affordable housing project to be announced in the new year.
Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton said the money is coming from the proceeds of the 15 per cent tax foreign real estate buyers' tax introduced recently by the government in Metro Vancouver. "It's a way of sharing with those who can't afford it.
"There's a lot of money, a lot of provincial money, a lot of taxpayer's money … for low-cost housing, to make it more accessible. It's really important because we live in such a costly environment. And people feel it," Dalton said.
He said the building will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with rent based on income.
Glen Campbell, chair of the community services board, said the building has been dreamed about for years. When the funding was announced, they got the grant application done in three days.
"It's an extremely exciting time.
"We were absolutely blown away when BC Housing notified us that we were getting a grant." Total cost of the building isn't yet known.
Kipps said community services has been around for 45 years and now serves about 12,000 people a year.
Construction starts this fall with completion by spring 2019.
The City of Maple Ridge wrote a letter endorsing the project.