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Questions around brand-new, empty affordable housing buildings in Keremeos

Click to play video 'Questions around  brand-new, empty affordable housing buildings in Keremeos' Questions around brand-new, empty affordable housing buildings in Keremeos
Two buildings that were designed to be affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities have been sitting empty in Keremeos since May. Jules Knox has details on why. – Oct 29, 2020

Move-in day should have come and gone for residents expecting to live in two affordable housing complexes in Keremeos.

Instead, the brand-new buildings have been sitting empty since May.

Local resident Anne Morrison, who lives in a different BC Housing unit, said there’s a desperate need in the village for more housing.

“I hope they get this straightened out,” Morrison said. “I hope so because there are a lot of people in desperate need of this housing.”

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According to council documents, the BC Housing buildings on 7th Avenue and 11th Avenue were designed for seniors and disabled individuals.

However, several local residents have expressed concern that they do not meet basic accessibility needs.

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Morrison said the doorstep had a huge drop, which would be difficult for somebody to navigate in a wheelchair.

There should be railings on both sides of the stairs for people who need the extra help, she added.

She also said the building’s railings are a hazard because they poke out at eye height for somebody in a wheelchair.

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The ramp outside the 11th Avenue building is currently fenced off and the end is marked with yellow caution tape.

“It was supposed to be wheelchair accessible, and it’s not wheelchair accessible,” said neighbour Don Agcocks.

“I just think it’s a bad situation altogether, and it’s supposed to be a government project, and you’d think they could do a better job.”

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The facility was built by Boston Construction.

Project manager Megan Koop said the company built to the specifications that they were given.

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Construction wrapped up in May, she said.

BC Housing mismanaged the project from the beginning, Koop added, noting that several different techs were involved at different times.

“Now they’re changing the goalpost,” she said, adding that the relationship with BC Housing was frustrating.

Koop said she expects a dispute to go to mediation.

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In an email, BC Housing said it is working to resolve issues with the contractor and hopes people will be able to move in soon.

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“BC Housing is unable to comment further as we are going through a legal process with the contractor,” spokesperson Laura Mathews said. “We will provide an update once that process is over.”

Meanwhile, locals are calling for higher government officials to step in so that people have a place to live before winter.

“Please help us. We really, really need you, and we need it now,” Morrison said.