A new affordable housing option officially opened its doors in Nanaimo Saturday.
Made up of 74 units, the apartment building provides affordable housing for seniors, people with disabilities and those living on low to moderate incomes.
“Affordable rental housing like this is essential in the midst of a housing crisis, with the cost of living going up,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “Housing like the Brechin Hill project will add to the health and well-being of individuals and families in Nanaimo and is part of our Homes for People housing action plan.”
Situated at the site of the rebuilt Brechin United Church, the apartment building is made up of studio, one, two and three-bedroom residences. The church itself is located on the ground floor.
Of the 74 units, 36 of those were set aside to provide rent that is geared towards tenant’s income, most of which will be one-bedroom units. Eight of the units on site are for those with very low incomes. Pets are allowed, and the site will have a live-in manager.
The other 38 are occupied by tenants that are paying rent at or near market rates. According to a news release from the Ministry of Housing, rent at Brechin Hill ranges from $375 to $2,295.
The Ministry estimates the site will cost around $704,000 to operate annually. A total of $7.4 million from the province has already gone into this project. The development is a joint effort between the provincial government, BC Housing, Brechin United Church and the Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church of Canada.
While Saturday marked its official opening, people have been moving into the building since January and it’s now fully occupied.
Located at 2020 Estevan Rd., the apartment building is near a grocery store and is only a few blocks away from the BC Ferries terminal.
“People deserve good, affordable homes. Working hard together we’ve completed 724 new units in Nanaimo since 2017 and another 942 are underway,” said Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo. “Brechin United Church is building a community, working with our government to create a beautiful and affordable place to call home.”
It was five years ago when construction began.
The Brechin United Church congregation wanted to build much-needed housing for the community while creating an environmentally-friendly modern place to worship and an accessible community centre to all.
The project ran into some major hurdles though. Construction ended up stopping with the initial builder. The United Church is now involved in a civil lawsuit that still hasn’t been resolved. The work was retendered and the pandemic also hit, which increased the cost of building. The United Church gave $2 million and the province gave a $7.5 million grant.
“We’ve had lots of roadblocks along the way but it was just so great to hear the impact that this has on the residents that are living in this space today and to have the opportunity to know that we’re actually making a difference,” said Treena Duncan, Executive Minister of the United Church for the B.C. and Yukon region.