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Nonprofit to build, run 140 rental units for Coquitlam seniors

S.U.C.C.E.S.S. recently brought on Van Mar to develop two parcels of city-owned land for low- and medium-income seniors.

One of the largest community service providers in the province has now hired a builder to construct two housing complexes for seniors in Coquitlam.

S.U.C.C.E.S.S. recently brought on Van Mar to develop two parcels of city-owned land at 290 Laval Sq., in the former parking lot of the Maillardville Community Centre across to Our Lady of Lourdes Church, and 602 Sydney Ave., next to the former Burquitlam Lions Care Centre in the Lower Lougheed neighbourhood.

The Laval Square building will be three storeys tall with some 37 units and the Sydney property will be a six-storey wood-frame building with more than 100 homes.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed last month with the municipality, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will build and run the combined 140 rental homes for seniors on low-to-medium incomes.

City council unanimously voted in favour of the non-market facilities (with Coun. Trish Mandewo recusing herself due to past work with the nonprofit), saying affordable housing for seniors is listed as a priority under Coquitlam’s Housing Needs Report.

By 2031, seniors will make up about 19 per cent of the city's population.

S.U.C.C.E.S.S., which started in B.C. in 1973 and operates more than 900 affordable homes in Metro Vancouver, has been active in Coquitlam for 20 years.

Council reaction

Still, while council praised the partnership, Coun. Dennis Marsden said locals should be first in the line up to get the new housing so that "Coquitlam residents are able to enjoy their retirement years in the city in which they raised their families."

He also noted the $15-million land value that Coquitlam is providing for seniors housing via a 60-year lease; occupancy is expected be issued in 2027.

"This is great news to see this coming before us," Coun. Steve Kim said at last month’s council-in-committee meeting, noting the ideal locations: the Sydney lot is close to public transit and shops while the Maillardville site is next to a recreation hub.

Before construction starts, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will be required to obtain development and building permits, as well as secure housing and leasing agreements.

With the city, the nonprofit will also apply for grants and subsidies through the Community Housing Fund (CHF) and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to offset the high interest rates and rising construction costs.

“According to a news release from the city, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has also committed $250,000 for initial planning of the development.”

"We're thrilled to partner with the City of Coquitlam to help local seniors continue to live in a community they love that supports their quality of life," stated Queenie Choo, the CEO of  S.U.C.C.E.S.S., in the release.

"S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has been helping to provide affordable housing since 2008 and today we operate nearly 1,000 housing units across Metro Vancouver, with more on the way. We also have a long history of providing seniors services, so we're eager to bring our expertise to this project to ensure Coquitlam seniors can live independently longer and age well in their own neighbourhoods."