Affordable rental housing complex opens in Courtenay

Originally published in Comox Valley Record, March 21, 2019

People with low to moderate incomes and those at risk of homelessness in the Comox Valley, including Indigenous peoples, now have more affordable housing options and better opportunities that come with stable housing.

The Province has partnered with M’akola Housing Society to build 35 new affordable rental homes at the long-awaited Braidwood apartments in Courtenay.

“Indigenous peoples are heavily over-represented among British Columbians who are experiencing homelessness, so these homes are good news with the potential to change lives of people in the Comox Valley,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “This project is a great example of how working with Indigenous organizations and municipalities, we can build the affordable homes that Indigenous families and people throughout B.C. need.”

Located at 810 Braidwood Rd., the new development is a three-storey, wood-framed building with a mix of studios and one-bedroom units, a common room and office space. All the units have a four-piece bathroom and kitchen.

M’akola is the non-profit operator and is providing supports for residents including outreach and counselling. Six of the units will be rented at the provincial shelter rate of $375 per month through referrals from the Wachiay Friendship Centre for clients registered in its Housing Partnership Program. Wachiay will provide those residents with accompanying supports, such as outreach and counselling, and a live-in caretaker.

Rents for the other units will range from about $580 to $760 per month. A few tenants began moving into their homes this month.

An opening ceremony was held Thursday at the site.

“We are honoured to be working in partnership with BC Housing, the Wachiay Friendship Centre and the City of Courtenay on this much-needed and community-supported affordable housing project, which will be located on the territory of the K’omoks First Nation,” said Kevin Albers, CEO, M’akola Housing Society and M’akola Development Services. “Affordable housing is a priority to this community, and this project, along with the strong support received, is to be celebrated.”

“We welcome the grand opening of this important facility and are grateful for the safety and security it will provide to members of our community who are at risk of homelessness or housing insecurity,” said Bob Wells, Mayor of Courtenay. “Countless organizations and individuals have worked tirelessly for many years to make this project a reality, and it’s truly exciting to finally be celebrating its completion.”

“The Braidwood project is a result of many years of work with community partners and is an important part of finding housing solutions for the Comox Valley,” said Michael Colclough, executive director at Wachiay. “Addressing issues of homelessness and affordable housing is a focus of the Wachiay Friendship Centre, and we are very pleased to have been involved in this M’akola Housing Society project.”

“Any one organization, working alone, can have only a limited impact given the scale of the housing crisis,” said

Margaret Pfoh, CEO, Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA). “By working together, AHMA’s members and our partners can be a powerful force for change and Braidwood is a testament to this change. We acknowledge the tremendous work and commitment to Indigenous housing from our members – Wachiay Friendship Centre and M’akola Housing Society. I am honoured to welcome Braidwood and each of its residents to the AHMA community.”

Bob Wells

Mayor, City of Courtenay