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General News · 12th May 2018
Sandra Wood
A lot is happening on the Cortes Community Housing front!

Publicity: It has been several weeks since we publicly launched our Cortes Community Housing work by presenting in person to the Cortes Island Seniors Society membership and to a very well attended community meeting, reaching out in person to immediately adjacent neighbours, mailing brochures to all Cortes residents and launching our website at

Regional Housing Plan: Our local work is being supported by a region-wide effort. In order to better address housing needs, the Strathcona Community Health Network is conducting a Housing Needs Assessment and a Regional Housing Strategy for the entire Strathcona region. This Strategy will help local governments and communities to better access funding and work collaboratively to address housing needs. As part of their community engagement process the Network is asking residents to complete a housing survey and to share your housing situation and experiences. Please fill it out at

Rezoning: A zoning amendment application has been submitted to the Strathcona Regional District to expand the existing senior’s village from six to ten units. This application has begun its journey through the Regional process and we anticipate a summer public hearing to gauge your support for these new units, which could then accommodate some of the fourteen seniors on the original waiting list.

Public Engagement: This spring, we will be conducting public engagement sessions to gather your input on the design of both the land-level planning and house design. In support of this work, we have four architectural firms that have submitted their quotes for public engagement workshops, concept plan for the new neighbourhood, and new housing cluster designs.

Film: Local film maker Bill Weaver is making a short video about the project that we all look forward to seeing! He has been shooting on site, at public gatherings and interviewing residents of the existing Seniors Village as well as a few people on the waiting list for new homes. Thank-you Bill!

$$$: We are actively fundraising both locally and further afield. We are reaching out one-on-one to donors and are looking for people to help organise fundraising events and do public outreach. Might this be you? We are drafting two grant applications to Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) and preparing for a very bold September application to BC Housing to fund the building of rental homes. We are not seeking funding in any way through local taxation. The more funds we can raise locally before September, the stronger our application will be to BC Housing in this competitive BC-wide competition.

Waiting List: During the past month, over 60 Cortes Islanders have registered their interest to live on this community property either as a renter, in a tiny home, in assisted living and/or in a home that could potentially be privately owned (like a housing co-operative or strata lease) on community land. This is important not only for those of you looking for a place to live, but also for us to know what to plan for, and how many units to budget for, when applying to BC Housing & CMHC for grant funds. If you are interested in being on the wait-list for future affordable year-round housing, then please press the REGISTER button on the following webpage:

Professional Team: We are assessing the new land in many ways so we can bring you solid information for our community land-use planning process this spring. We need good data to help guide us on ideal locations of future housing clusters, wildlife corridors, public trails, etc. Ron McMurtrie, a wastewater engineer, and Cortes’ own Matt Cuscianna have been on the new land finding ideal sites to locate septic systems. Our own Sabina Leader-Mense and Matt will also be assessing tree groves for retention versus removal, water ways, wetlands, wildlife trails, sensitive habitat, etc. We will also be locating the property boundaries with the help of neighbours and a surveyor, plus getting quotes for irrigation and very natural low-maintenance landscaping for both the Seniors Village expansion and the new land. All of this professional information will assist us in our funding bid to BC Housing. We are also delighted to welcome Cathy Winter to our small professional team as she will be helping with bookkeeping and other administrative work.

Volunteers: More than 20 of you have also signed up to be volunteers going forward. Thank-you! This project will need many hands. A team led by Andy Ellingsen have been removing the residential debris piles left along Cemetery Road from previous uses. They have been separating the garbage from the recyclables and burning the rest. Special thanks to Dennis Newsham and the volunteer fire department for having a fire truck on stand-by for this controlled burn. Steve Ringwood has mounted new trail signs onto poles, which Steve & Mark Appleyard volunteered to install, these signs are requesting that when you walk on the land to please stay on the trail and use it respectfully.

Commercial Lot: On April 30th, the CISS Housing Committee together with the Cortes Island Foundation (CIF) facilitated and enabled CIBATA (Cortes Island Business & Tourism Association) to purchase the 2.6 acre commercially zoned property. This lot is located between Manson’s Hall & the old bank building, and is adjacent to the 51 acres of residentially zoned land owned by CISS. We look forward to connecting these two properties with the overall flow of people around Manson’s Landing, including potential pedestrian and bike links to community services like the hall, school, general store, café, and future new retail/office/professional space.

We are most grateful for all your support and enthusiasm so far.

~ Sandra Wood, CISS Housing Co-ordinator
On behalf of the CISS Housing Committee (Deepa Narayan, Noba Anderson, Priya Huffman, Elizabeth Anderson, David Rousseau), and our Development Consultant Ian Scott.