Displaced residents in Campbell River will soon have a place to call home, after the provincial government purchased a building to house those who lost their homes in a devastating apartment fire.
On April 8, a blazing fire burned down the homes of 92 people at the Pacific West complex. With an occupancy rate at 0.4 per cent, finding a place to stay in Campbell River has been nearly impossible for those searching.
“We know that finding affordable housing is challenging, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island. “This purchase and resulting new units will provide security, stability and peace of mind for people in Campbell River who lost their homes during the April fire, while we continue to work with our partners to build more affordable housing for others in need of a place to call home.”
The province has purchased the former Heritage River Inn, located at 2140 Island Highway in Campbell River for $4.08 million, through funding from the Building BC program. The building has a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments that are all expected to be filled in the coming weeks.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing says this recent buy will provide 41 units of stable, long-term, affordable rental housing for low-income individuals displaced by the apartment fire.
Residents will pay monthly rent, which will be set at 30 per cent of the household’s income.
Not all residents are moving in, as some households were able to secure new housing over the past month. The remaining majority of households will soon begin moving into the former inn.
Since April, BC Housing has provided temporary housing at a local hotel and daily meals to people displaced by the fire. The John Howard Society, Sasamans Society and the City of Campbell River also have provided daily support and assistance to help people find other places to live.
“From the beginning, provincial resources and community social service agencies have been key in helping people feel safe and secure following the fire and the loss of their homes,” said Andy Adams, mayor of Campbell River. “With BC Housing purchasing this property and making affordable rental housing available to these people, some of the urgent need for shelter in Campbell River’s extremely limited rental market will be relieved.”
In the coming weeks, a service provider will be selected to operate the new site and oversee day-to-day management of the building as residents gradually start moving in.
BC Housing says it is considering redeveloping the site in the future, but for now, there is no proposal or timeline in place. The organization says it would take in community opinions and suggestions if that were to occur.
In addition to this project, the Province has invested in two other new housing projects, to create a total of 76 new units, which are underway in Campbell River. Those projects include 49 units for women and children leaving violence and 27 units for low- to moderate-income households.