Public engagement for the BC Housing project that will replace several motels on Skaha Lake Road in Penticton is still months away.
The redevelopment covers four different properties that were bought by BC Housing, including three on Skaha Lake Road — the Mayfair, Meadowlark and Sun Valley motels — and a property on Green Avenue West — Skaha Sunrise apartments.
The properties were purchased in May 2021 with the goal of redeveloping the 103 existing units on the combined five acres of land into affordable housing.
Since then there has not been much public progress. When BC Housing appeared in front of Penticton city council in April of 2022, they said that the project was still years away.
Public engagement on the development was planned to begin in the fall or winter of 2022, however, according to BC Housing delays in the design stage has pushed back that plan.
“We are currently working with designers and consultants to finalize the design plans and expect to host public engagement sessions later this year,” said BC Housing in a statement to the Western News. “Community members will be informed of these sessions as soon as dates are set.”
According to BC Housing’s letstalkhousingbc.ca page for the project, the site is zoned for higher density and will look substantially different from the existing development.
That page also listed plans to have a formal application for development to the city in 2023, however in their Jan. 24 statement to Black Press, BC Housing said they do not have an exact timeline for when that proposal will be submitted due to the nature of the design and building process.
City planners mentioned the project at a presentation to the building-development community on Tuesday night, Jan 24.
“We are excited about the BC Housing project that will offer everything from senior housing to rent to own,” said Blake Laven, the city planning manager.
The delays also come after a third-party audit of BC Housing projects in the city found a lack of needed services, including services for individuals with high-needs.
In the meantime, BC Housing pointed to 82 new units of housing on the way, including 54 from the dry and recovery-based supportive housing project just a few blocks down Skaha Lake Rd. from the motels.
“We know that Penticton is in need of more affordable housing, which is why the province, through BC Housing, has opened 173 new affordable homes in the community since 2017,” said BC Housing.
When BC Housing bought the properties in 2021, they took over the rental agreements for the residents already living in them.
One that didn’t have their agreement continue was the Canadian Mental Health Association, which had operated its Unity House out of one of the motels. After being given a deadline of April 2022 to find a new location, the CMHA was able to reopen in June of that year.
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