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Province announces new rental homes for middle-income families in Kelowna

B.C.'s housing minister was in Kelowna to announce a new development, but this one isn't a homeless shelter or supportive housing complex. Jules Knox reports.

British Columbia’s housing minister was in town on Friday to announce a new housing development, but it won’t be a new homeless shelter or supportive housing complex.

Almost 160 new rental homes will be built on Clement Avenue across from the police station for Kelowna’s middle-income families, usually characterized as households with incomes ranging between $52,000 and $71,000.

“The missing middle is a huge portion of our population, and it hasn’t had a whole lot of attention or support over the years,” BC Housing spokesperson Ryan Choo said.

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Many middle-income families have been priced out of the housing market so the Housing Hub partnership was created by the province to help increase the supply of affordable homes for those earners, according to BC Housing.

In this case, the project is a partnership between the province, the city and developer PC Urban.

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“The idea is how can we leverage the various component parts that we all bring to the table,” Selina Robinson, B.C.’s housing minister, said. “With a local government, it might be relaxing parking or relaxing some of the fees or moving a project to the front of the line.”

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The development on Clement Avenue wasn’t initially supported by Kelowna city staff, Mayor Colin Basran said.

The main issue was a lack of parking, he added.

“This project will only have surface parking. It won’t have any of the parking in a structure or parkade, and that was one of the reasons our staff didn’t support it,” Basran said.

“But we also know that due to its proximity to various services, the fact that it’s going to be providing housing for middle-income earners, council saw more positives for this project and ultimately decided to approve it.”

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Robinson said the development isn’t subsidized, but the province is providing $39 million in financing.

“That has allowed the numbers to work for the developer — that they can get a return, a modest return, but also deliver on affordability,” Robinson said.

Rent is expected to be $1,300 a month for a one-bedroom unit and $1,780 for a two-bedroom.

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Construction on the two six-storey buildings will begin in June and is expected to be complete by late 2020.

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