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Coquitlam applies to Metro Vancouver to partner on seniors' housing at Place Maillardville

The City of Coquitlam will submit a bid to Metro Vancouver Housing (MVH) before Dec. 31 to see if it wants to partner on new rental homes for seniors beside the updated recreation centre.

Despite calling for non-profit groups to come forward to build and run a new seniors housing complex next to Place Maillardville, the City of Coquitlam is now choosing a different tact.

Instead, it will submit a bid to Metro Vancouver Housing (MVH) before Dec. 31 to see if it wants to partner on new rental homes for seniors beside the updated recreation centre.

Coquitlam is applying to MVH to develop a minimum of 37 units on city-owned land under a 60-year lease; staff have specified that the project only be used to accommodate seniors.

If approved as part of MVH’s second intake of the program, city staff will bring the application back to council with more details about the terms of the agreement, Demian Rueter, Coquitlam’s acting community social development manager, said at Monday’s (Dec. 13) meeting.

“It’s a great opportunity for the city,” Coun. Chris Wilson told Mayor Richard Stewart and councillors. 

“After being on the Metro Vancouver housing committee for a number of years, I have a lot of faith that, if this does get accepted, it’ll be developed in a very complete fashion, in a very sustainable fashion, and it should be able to deliver what Metro Vancouver is hoping for.”

What the regional agency is hoping for — in the creation of its 10-year plan, adopted in November 2019 — is for 500 new affordable housing units through partnerships with member municipalities, which includes Coquitlam. 

To help pay for the vision, the Metro Vancouver board OK’d a new annual tax equalling about $4 from every household in the region.

In its first intake of applications last year, MVH approved two projects for 244 new homes in Burnaby and Pitt Meadows.

A Metro Vancouver spokesperson told the Tri-City News today (Dec. 17) bids for the second round will be accepted from member municipalities until the end of the year.

A report with the results will then go to the regional authority’s board and housing committee in early 2022.

Should the City of Coquitlam be successful, the arrangement with MVH would be similar to partnerships with other non-profits to operate housing on city-owned land, such as the Kinsmen-operated units on civic property at 1320 Pinetree Way — north of the Town Centre fire hall.

In April, city staff compiled a list of qualified non-profit groups to design, build and run the new seniors housing complex on the parking lot beside Place Maillardville, due to reopen next fall.

But city manager Peter Steblin said while he’s critical of Metro Vancouver programs, given the new tax, the proposal to MVH is “another avenue of getting to the product we want to get to... This, with conditions [for seniors housing only], is a reasonable approach to try something different.”

A housing provider since 1974, MVH currently accommodates more than 9,400 residents in 3,400 affordable units across the region; it can also tap into senior government funding for subsidies.

According to the Place Maillardville Seniors Housing Feasibility Study, there’s a high demand for assisted-living facilities and a strong market for independent seniors living in the Tri-Cities.

The study found that the number of:

  • Coquitlam residents ages 65 and older grew by 5.5 per cent each year between 2006 and 2016
  • Independent seniors’ units has stayed the same, but care facility units has dropped by 25 per cent
  • The number of seniors on the BC Housing Registry waitlist, between 2016 and 2020, climbed between 6 per cent and 17 per cent each year

For more details on the Place Maillardville Community Centre, you're encouraged to visit the facility's page on the City of Coquitlam website.