BC Housing has just announced it will fund the proposed five-storey affordable housing project at 603 Main Street. (Western News file photo)

BC Housing has just announced it will fund the proposed five-storey affordable housing project at 603 Main Street. (Western News file photo)

BC Housing announces funding of 5-storey affordable housing in downtown Penticton

M’akalo Housing Society had applied to the province to fund the 28-unit tower at 603 Main Street

BC Housing just announced it is funding the proposed five-storey affordable housing project at 603 Main Street in downtown Penticton.

M’akola Housing Society will be the owner and operator of the non-profit housing which will now have to go to city council to ask for development permits.

The announcement from BC Housing came on Thursday, June 3, along with 47 new affordable housing projects funded across B.C.

Less than two weeks ago, BC Housing announced it purchased three motels along Skaha Lake Road and will be converting them into low-income housing, along with another motel it already owns.

The affordable housing on Main St. will bring 28 units for families and seniors with a priority given to Indigenous people.

M’akola’s application to change the Official Community Plan designation to allow for five storeys instead of three was narrowly approved by council last December.

M’Akola indicated back then that if its grant application to the province was successful, it would be submitting its application for a development permit fairly quickly.

Once the city receives the development permit application, city staff will be able to better understand what permits will be needed for the project and timelines of when building would get underway, said Adam Goodwin, city social development coordinator.

Opposing opinions were voiced on the five-storey project.

One of the common concerns voiced is allowing a five-storey building where only three storeys are allowed through the Official Community Plan for downtown.

“Three-storey buildings are built on a human scale where people are recognizable; lower heights increase social interaction and connectivity with the streets; a continuous flow of business and retail along city sidewalks increases downtown walkability,” reads a letter sent to the city from the Downtown Penticton Association who opposed the development.

Council approved the contentious amendment to the city’s zoning bylaw and OCP in a 3-2 vote on Dec. 7, 2020.

M’Akola Housing’s project manager Mark Christian spoke at the December 2020 hearing explaining that they originally wanted to go up six storeys to accommodate the one, two and three bedrooms complex that will house 28 units.

“We have listened to the concerns and reduced it to five storeys.”

They are proposing to have commercial space on the ground floor with office space for M’akola Housing Society. They have also been in talks with the South Okanagan Women in Need Society to move their office there.

M’akola has affordable housing projects throughout B.C. including an affordable housing project underway in Oliver.

A total of 47 new projects have been selected through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund (CHF), including one in Osoyoos with the Osoyoos Indian Band and one in Summerland already approved on Jubilee Road. See all the details here.

READ MORE: City council approves five-storey variance for Main Street housing

READ MORE: BC Housing to convert four Penticton motels to low income housing