Who is the Gabriola Housing Society, and what it is doing

Gabriola Housing Society

Press Release

Wednesday, February 5 2020

On January 15, 2020, Gabriola Housing Society (GHS) delivered to the Local Trust Committee (LTC) an application to build 24 units of affordable rental housing at Paisley Place. 

This application follows decades of discussion, meetings, and reports amidst a deteriorating rental housing market. Currently, over half of Gabriola’s rental population lives in inappropriate, unstable, or sub-standard housing, and 52% of individuals and families spend more than 30% of their household income on housing. (Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation considers housing “affordable” if it costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income.) 

Volunteers formed GHS in 2013 following local housing studies by PHC and Sustainable Gabriola. 

Then, in mid-2018 two significant things happened: 

1. GHS held a Community Housing Forum to discover what kind of affordable housing Gabriola’s residents might support.

2. The following month, the Islands Trust (IT) published its “Housing Needs Assessment for the Northern Region of the IT”. 

GHS got to work looking for lots near the village that were suitable for building affordable rental housing, finding ways to raise the necessary money, applying for charitable status, and investigating similar projects elsewhere in the Gulf Islands. Things finally began to move—here’s the progress GHS has made over the past 9 months.

May 2019—Gabriola Housing Society (GHS) registered as a non-profit charitable organization with CRA, and with Canada Helps, to receive tax-deductible financial donations.

June 2019—GHS completed its months-long process of assessing possible sites for the development of affordable rental housing. As well, GHS hired Development Consultant, Ian Scott.

August 2019—Emcon Corporation donated to GHS 8 acres of suitable land surrounding Paisley Place, within easy walking distance of the village.

September 2019—The wells (dug in 2011) at Paisley Place were tested, including measuring effects on neighbouring wells. No effects were found.

September-October  2019—The area’s soil and ecology were surveyed, including locating significant trees.

November 2019—Tentative site plans for a 24-unit housing development were drawn up, showing the dwellings’ location onsite to minimize tree removal and preserve trail connections. The plans showed parking and suitable sewage disposal locations. 

These plans were presented at a Community Consultation Meeting at the Community Hall on November 16, 2019. 

The meeting was advertised in the Sounder, on GHS’s website, by email to GHS members, and on several Facebook community bulletin boards.

December 2019—GHS conducted a survey of individuals who are possibly eligible and interested in living in such rental housing. The 129 people who responded identified what size dwellings they would need. The survey was advertised on the GHS website, on Facebook community boards, by email to GHS members, and in the Sounder. It was available online or on paper at PHC and at the library.

December 2019—GHS board hired a modular housing builder to submit floorplans for eight buildings, each with three dwellings, to be built around greenspaces and parking areas in two clusters. The planned distribution of the 24 dwellings is eight studios, eight 1-bedroom, three 2-bedroom, and five 3-bedroom units.
January 2020—GHS delivered its development application to the Local Trust Committee. A GHS delegation appeared at the January 23 LTC meeting to request that the application be expedited through the LTC’s process. 

The LTC asked the staff to complete their initial report in March.

To date, this project has been supported financially by donations from Gabriola residents and the Gabriola Auxiliary, and from the VanCity Community Partnership Program. 

The Gabriola Island Community Investment Co-op provided a start-up loan for our initial work. 

For details about GHS’s board, work to date, and plans, visit www.gabriolahousing.ca .

Gabriola Housing Society has a Facebook page and also a Facebook discussion group.