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Metro working to bring affordable housing to Pitt Meadows

Proposed $46 million project would build some 120 units
An artist sketch of Heather Place in Vancouver is an example of Metro’s affordable housing designs. (Special to The News)

Metro Vancouver wants to build a new affordable housing complex in Pitt Meadows.

Two Metro officials spoke with Pitt Meadows council in an online meeting on Dec. 8, to discuss a new 120-unit, $46 million project proposed for a city-owned site on 119B Avenue.

Heather McNell, Metro’s general manager of regional planning and housing services, said Metro has a 10-year plan to address the housing crisis in the region, and said the Pitt Meadows project is “One of our significant priorities.”

She said Metro asked for expressions of interest, and identified 13 opportunities, including three priority projects - one of which is in Pitt Meadows.

Laurel Cowan, Metro’s program manager of housing planning and policy, explained that Metro has 49 sites across region that have 3,400 units and 9,400 total tenants. Of these, 30 per cent have geared-to-income rents, and tenants pay approximately 30 per cent of their household income. The other 70 per cent of their units are rented at “the low end of the housing market,” which offers a savings of about 10-20 per cent below average market rents.

The units are geared to families, which occupy about 80 per cent of the units, but seniors and people with disabilities are also key targets of the Metro housing initiative.

They noted Pitt Meadows offers a “fantastic location, close to everything,” the city is supportive, and Metro operates no affordable housing sites in the city now.

“This is a gap in our facilities that we would love to fill,” said Cowan.

READ ALSO: Rent as low as $375 per month at new Maple Ridge affordable housing complex

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows on shortlist of four communities being considered for Metro Vancouver Housing

The site, which measures 3,600 square meters, would be leased to Metro at a nominal rate, and Metro Vancouver Housing would manage the operation of the building.

With the new partnership, council directed staff to work with Metro to develop zoning for the proposed project.

Metro will pursue funding from senior governments, and submit to BC Housing for funding in January. The provincial agency offers both grants and loans, and even operating subsidies.

The timeline will depends on funding, but Metro said they would like to move forward as soon as possible, if funding can be secured. The average project takes four years from start to finish.

“Hopefully this one could be expedited quickly,” said Cowan.

Coun. Mike Hayes called it “exciting news,” and asked whether the parking would be underground, and the height of the building.

Cowan answered that there would be a single level of underground parking. She was not sure how many floors would be needed, but Metro would like to offer a minimum of 120 units.

Coun. Nicole MacDonald clarified that this will not be a low-barrier housing facility.

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The site on 119B Avenue where the affordable housing project is proposed. (Special to The News)

Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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