BIRCH update: housing project steadily progressing

Bowen Island Resilient Community Housing (BIRCH) is steadily advancing the community rental housing project on Lot 3 on Miller Rd. We have engaged Boni Maddison Architects (BMA) to design the building. BMA has extensive experience in community housing and is familiar with the funding programs we are aiming to apply for, so the project is in good hands.Last week BIRCH executive director Robyn Fenton met on-site with project architects and our development consultants, CitySpaces, to see the site and discuss our community’s goals. 

Earlier this month, board members David McCullum, and Jack Resels, along with Robyn Fenton met with our newly elected federal MP Patrick Weiler at an open house at his constituency office in Horseshoe Bay. We introduced our organisation and our project and he indicated he was in support of our project and would assist in any way he can with our funding applications, including writing a letter of support. 

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Our next steps in the coming three to four months are completing the schematic design with BMA and an updated feasibility report for the project with our development consultants. The subdivision of Lot 3 should be complete around the same time. With these in hand, we will be applying for both BC Housing and Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) funding. We will also finally have some plans and images of the building to share with the community. 

We are aiming for plus or minus 25 units in a variety of sizes and rent levels to meet the needs of low to moderate income households. Dependent on funding from BC Housing, we may also be able to include units for very-low income residents.Additional goals include durable (low maintenance) construction, high energy efficiency, design that allows for lots of daylight and fresh air, adequate storage and space for social connection. 

We continue to work closely with our design team to achieve as many of our goals as possible mindful of financial feasibility and government funding requirements.

With regards to community input, we continue to work with our community advisory committee: BARC. That group of volunteers met in January to discuss tenant selection requirements and process options. We will also be reviewing the building design and draft business plan with this group for their feedback to make sure we are on the right track. BARC’s next meeting is in March. 

How can you be involved? The next BARC meeting is in March and we are looking for new members. BARC is a great opportunity to get involved and help shape this important project. 

BIRCH continues to be very thankful for all the community support and our ongoing partnership with Bowen Island Municipality. 

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