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Future of Coquitlam co-op up in the air due to court ruling

Previous plan was to sell land to pay for new housing
The townhouses on the Hoy Creek co-op property off Glen Drive in Coquitlam are boarded up and the plan is to tear them down.

There is more uncertainty surrounding the future of the Hoy Creek Housing Co-op in Coquitlam after the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation claimed in court filings that the society that operates the building complex is in default of a $4.2-million loan.

CMHC, a federal Crown corporation, successfully petitioned the courts to name PwC Canada, an accounting firm, the receiver of the Glen Drive property, which includes 60 abandoned townhouses and 157 occupied apartment units.

For residents like Bobbi Style, the recent court action and a lack of information about the property’s future have created unease. 

“I can see everyone’s positions but it doesn’t help the people that live here,” he said. “We have been paying rent good as gold for years.” 

Further complicating Style’s situation is the fact that he is disabled and uses a wheelchair. He has spent time and money modifying his apartment to meet his needs and said he is concerned that he may be forced out of his home.

But until he is told for certain the he must vacate, he said he is unable to access any of the supports available through BC Housing that would assist with his relocation. 

“None of us can start the process to live anywhere else,” he told The Tri-City News. “We are in limbo.”

Issues with the Hoy Creek Housing Co-op have been ongoing for years.

Bad plumbing, poor design and elements of leaky-condo construction have made the 60 townhouse units uninhabitable, with the last tenant moving out over a year ago.

A fire broke out in one of the vacant properties last month, which led to a letter from the city of Coquitlam stating that the structures must be demolished as soon as possible. CMHC stated in court filings that demolition of the townhouses would cost $2 million, an amount they said the co-op is unable to pay. 

Two years ago, Hoy Creek board members put forward a plan that involved selling a portion of the property at market rates and using the proceeds to finance the redevelopment of affordable housing on the remaining parcel of land.

Society members have even been in discussions with a developer, according to court documents, although CMHC said the co-op does not have the resources to move the strategy forward.

Instead, CMHC stated that it wants PwC to prepare a marketing and redevelopment strategy that will allow the mortgage provider to recoup its money. In court documents, the Crown corporation stated the plan will likely involve demolishing “some (or all) of the apartment buildings (in addition to the demolition of the townhouse buildings) to make way for redevelopment.”

CMHC did not agree to an interview, telling The Tri-City News that because the matter is before the courts, it could not comment. Representatives from the Hoy Creek Housing Co-op also declined to make a statement.

But in court documents, the co-op pushed back against some of CMHC’s assertions.

It noted that the arrears only amount to $274,662, and that aside from 2013 and 2014, all mortgage payments have been made on time. 

In the co-op’s filing, Hoy Creek values the land at greater than $20 million and said that it had secured creditors, including developer Townline Ventures, that would allow them to cover the CMHC debt in full. But it claims it is unable to make the payment while the property is in receivership and overseen by PwC. 

“The respondent faces considerable prejudice if this relief is not granted, particularly in the costs and delays occasioned by the receivership and the potential loss of the lands. That loss would result in the loss of affordable housing to its members.” 

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said despite the uncertainty, he has received assurances that CMHC intends to maintain affordable housing units on the property. He added that the recent court action is consistent with the original plan of selling a piece of the land and using the proceeds to build affordable housing on the remaining part of the property. 

“CMHC has made it clear to me that their goal is re-establishing those housing units,” he said, later adding that the legal proceedings “have raised my eyebrows, but it hasn’t raised any alarms yet.”

The matter will be back in court next Tuesday, when PwC’s receivership is set to expire.