The provincial government has announced it is supporting the construction of a new secured market rental housing building in Squamish for middle-income households.
Through BC Housing’s HousingHub initiative, the provincial government is providing $23.6 million in low-cost construction financing to Vancouver-based Eighth Avenue Development Group, which will be repaid over time by the developer.
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The plan is to build a new six-storey building on an 18,000 sq. ft. lot at 38012 3rd Avenue in downtown Squamish, replacing the former Squamish Budget Inn, which was sold in May 2018 for $4.5 million.
A total of 67 secured market rental units are planned. Initial monthly rents for Ashlu, the name of the building, will range from about $1,675 for a one-bedroom unit to $2,500 for a three-bedroom unit.
There has been upward pressure on housing in Squamish ever since the completion of the Sea to Sky Highway upgrades over a decade ago, and increasingly there are people living in this community who commute into Metro Vancouver for work.
COVID-19 has also sent more urban dwellers into the surrounding suburban and rural communities looking for larger homes.
“We know finding rental housing in Squamish has been a challenge for families and individuals who love the city and are helping build Squamish’s future,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, in a statement.
“This project will provide much-needed new rental housing for the folks who help make Squamish work. We look forward to building more housing like this in Squamish and across the province to respond to the housing crisis faced by far too many people.”
The architectural design is inspired by Squamish’s past of being built around the mining and lumber industry. The upper building levels carry the form of a “mill,” with a simple form, sloped roof, clerestory windows, and metal cladding, while the “mine” is expressed in the heavier, concrete form with rusted steel design elements on the lower levels.
A Passive House green building standard is targeted for the building. Ashlu, currently under construction, is set for completion in Summer 2022.
The HousingHub initiative was created by BC Housing in 2018 to create new affordable rental homes and homeownership options for middle-income residents by establishing partnerships with community, non-profit organizations, private sector partners, and the federal and municipal governments.
The provincial government has set aside over $6.5 billion for the multi-faceted initiative over 10 years, with the goal of creating 114,000 affordable homes across the province. This includes $1.8 billion for 19,000 affordable rental homes for the middle class, skilled workers, and seniors.