A new development for Kelowna’s north end may soon lead to an increase in affordable housing for local seniors.
The Pleasantvale Homes project, originally created and managed by the Rotary Club of Kelowna for more than 50 years, is about to be redeveloped and significantly improved.
Back in 1955 during an annual Rotary seniors’ dinner, it was suggested that seniors need a place to meet. But further consultation with a local welfare officer determined a more glaring need was evident from how many of Kelowna’s elderly residents were living in appalling conditions equivalent to Third World slums.
Harold Henderson, Rotary club president at the time, appointed a committee led by Ernie Winter to come up with a solution, and in 1956 the Pleasantvale Homes Society was formed to create affordable housing for Kelowna’s disadvantaged seniors.
At the time, Kelowna was eight square miles within its municipal boundaries, compared to 120 square miles today. The Rotarians negotiated for most of an entire block of land on the northern outskirts of town.
The early phases were difficult, primarily for funding, but Rotarians and many other organizations pulled together: The city sold the property to Rotary for $2, and for construction the club paid 10 per cent down, the government paid one-third of the cost and CMHC mortgaged the remainder. Design and construction was all heavily subsidized by Rotarians and their businesses.
The first 12 homes opened in 1957, with others added over the next 12 years until all 50 units were completed.
Since then, Rotary has offered affordable housing (less than 50 per cent the rent charged in other “subsidized” housing projects) for more than 60 seniors.
Following an extensive study in 2007, it was decided that the most productive future for the society was to involve BC Housing in a major expansion.
In the summer of 2011, Rotary’s primary role in this project was completed with the “gift” of the Pleasantvale property (conservatively valued at well over $2 million) to BC Housing under the following conditions:
• BC Housing will redevelop the block offering affordable housing to more than the current 50 units (no less than 70 and potentially more than 200).
• All current tenants will be appropriately accommodated during redevelopment and housed in the redeveloped facility with no increase in rent.
• Rotary’s legacy will continue with full naming rights and the option to locate a plaque or identifying sculpture.
• BC Housing will complete their redevelopment within seven years or the project will revert back to the Pleasantvale Homes Society.
• Covenant with BCH has been registered on title ensuring that this property is restricted for the same specific use in perpetuity.
• Rotarians will continue to manage the facility until redevelopment.
This Rotary project resulted in the award of Rotary International’s prestigious “Significant Achievement Award” in 2012.
Now in 2013, BC Housing’s proposed redevelopment is progressing with NORR Architects Planners who have an open house meeting slated for Wednesday, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at The Laurel Packinghouse, 1304 Ellis St.
The design concepts are based on the ideas from several public involvement events which were organized to encourage input from the residents, the public and the city’s north end neighbours. Three design concepts will be shown at Wednesday’s open house—the number, type, height, width and location of the residential buildings proposed on the block.
Following the event this week, the design team will return to the community and follow up with another open house on March 26 before taking the final proposal to the city for approval.
For more information, contact Peter Schultz, president of the Rotary Club of Kelowna, at PeterSchultz@shaw.ca.