Women's housing project in PoCo moves forward

The operators of a future social housing complex close to Kwayhquitlum middle in Port Coquitlam — geared for single women and children — will likely see their application advance this fall.

The operators of a future social housing complex close to Kwayhquitlum middle in Port Coquitlam — geared for single women and children — will likely see their application advance this fall.

Next month, city council will consider first and second bylaw readings for the bid by the Atira Women’s Resource Society.

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The move comes after Atira’s application for an official community plan (OCP) amendment went before the city’s smart growth committee in late July, showing some design changes to the residential space. Its proposed daycare size has also shrunken and will now accommodate 40 rather than 60 children.

“The plan has morphed somewhat since it began,” said PoCo Coun. Glenn Pollock, who championed the project by getting Metro Vancouver to agreeing to a longterm lease of its four lots, bringing on Atira and recruiting builders TL Housing, whose vice-president is Coquitlam developer Craig Lochhead.

Besides the residential units and daycare, the complex will also include a medical clinic,“ a great addition to the community,” said Pollock, noting the project is being expedited by the city — at taxpayers’ expense — because of the “public interest” in the Tri-Cities.

According to a 2016 report from the Tri-Cities Housing and Homelessness Task Force, single mothers in the Tri-Cities are in dire need of affordable housing.

In 2015, 47% of Coquitlam households with single women and children paid 50% or more of their income on housing costs — the highest percentage in Metro Vancouver at the time; in PoCo, 35% of households with single moms and their kids also shelled out 50% or more of their revenues.

With its PoCo building — which has yet to be approved by city council — Atira plans to rent out its studios for $375 per month and its four-bedroom units at $1,712 a month; women and children from the Kwikwetlem First Nation will have priority access.

A non-profit group with charitable status, Atira runs a number of social housing complexes and programs around Metro Vancouver geared for single women and their children.

jcleugh@tricitynews.com

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