Groundbreaking for the long-awaited Tri-Cities Children’s Centre and 55 units of affordable housing took place Thursday morning in the best way possible — with the sound of babies cooing and crying in the background.
The $40-million joint project is being built on land donated by St. Andrew’s-Ioco United Church at 2318 St. Johns St. in Port Moody in a partnership between the church, the province, Catalyst Community Developments Society, Kinsight and Share Family and Community Services Society.
It was an opportunity for church congregants, parents, politicians and other community members to come together to talk about the project, one of the most innovative uses of church property in the Tri-Cities that will provide not only housing, including homes for adults with developmental disabilities, but services for children who have disabilities as well as a place for church-goers to worship.
At a time of housing crisis, four units will be offered at shelter rates of $375 per month for a studio and $750 a month for a two-bedroom while the remaining project rents will range from $1,069 to $1,752 per month, depending on the size of the units.
“We are using the ground not for profit, but for people,” said Rev. Julie Lebrun, who said the project grew out of St. Andrews' work hosting homeless people for eight years as part of the Tri-Cities cold, wet weather mat program.
In addition to much-needed housing, The Springs will finally bring to fruition a 15-year dream to bring services to families under one roof.
The Tri-Cities Children’s Centre will bring services provided by Share Family and Community Services and Kinsight together so families who have children with developmental delays or diagnosed disabilities can go to one place to get their needs met.
There will be rooms designed to be accessible and comfortable for children who may have sensory processing disorders or other concerns, and a single phone number for parents to call to get help.
As many as 2,600 children will be served through the facility each year, including children with autism, premature babies with developmental concerns, and babies and children with medical or biological diagnoses, such as cerebral palsy, language or motor delays or other issues.
Kinsight CEO Christine Scott said The Springs will be inclusive, ensuring that people feel welcome, while Share CEO Claire MacLean said working together with Kinsight will make life easier for families.
When it opens in 2021, the centre will provide office space, a multi-purpose room, treatment rooms and a community room with a kitchen.
MacLean told The Tri-City News Kinsight and Share have been collaborating for many years, so it made sense to partner with the project and work together helping children.
There is a campaign to help raise a portion of the $14.5-million projected cost. Kinsight is an equity investor, putting in approximately one-third of the funding and securing financing for another third. The remaining third is being raised by Kinsight and Share through a joint capital campaign.
The Springs by the numbers
• The province through BC Housing provided approximately $9.5 million in capital funding and construction financing.
• The city of Port Moody provided $528,000 through the Port Moody Affordable Housing Reserve.
• The land on St. Johns Street, valued at $4.3 million, was provided by the BC Conference Property Development Council of the United Church of Canada, and is the former site of St. Andrew’s United Church.