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General News · 16th January 2020
Hayley Newell
2020? Wow.

Here we are, and thanks to you 2019 was an amazing year. In the life of a project this big, sometimes it seems that things move forward too slowly for us to see. In 2019, we saw real progress. Together, we made huge gains for our community's effort to build affordable, stable, year-round rental housing on Cortes Island.

Here’s what we accomplished:

January: Almost exactly a year ago, we launched Home: A Cortes Community writing initiative. We invited Cortes residents to ponder what images, feelings or memories the idea of ‘home’ brought up for them, and to share their reflections in writing.

March: We received a $5,000 donation from Coastal Community Credit Union towards the building and construction of 4 new rental homes for seniors on Cortes Island. These funds went to drilling a new well, which will provide more water to Seniors Village residents and irrigate the expanded courtyard garden.

April: A group of community members collaborated with our architects to refine the cluster locations for 20 housing units on Rainbow Ridge, and to review interior floor plan layouts. The conclusions of this weekend housing workshop were presented at a Public Open House on April 7. Over 40 people attended the event, asked many questions, and celebrated all that has been accomplished with cake and coffee.

June: We participated in the Great Canadian Giving Challenge via Canada Helps which entered us in a draw to win $10,000. Sadly, we did not win the grand prize, but we did raise an impressive $2,885!

July: We hosted a beautiful summer fundraiser with the generosity of many spectacular volunteers and amazing team work. We raised an incredible $177,000 that evening in addition to a land donation in Whaletown.

August: We ended the summer on a high (and very berry-stained!) note with our Blackberry Bash Ice Cream Social. The collaboration with Glass Moon Ice Cream was a fan favourite, complete with music and an inspired raffle for a custom ice-cream flavour. A cool $1,200 was raised in support of the Rainbow Ridge affordable housing project.

September: Over the course of four weeks, Norm Gibbons donated the proceeds from four of his Fermented Love products. Norm’s initiative raised $1,025 towards housing for long term residents of Cortes Island who need a stable home.

October: We applied to rezone 2.45 hectares (6.05 acres) of the northern portion of Rainbow Ridge. This proposed rezoning will allow us to move forward with building our envisioned 20 units of rental housing.

On October 28, 2019 we presented the rezoning application publicly. This was an opportunity for residents to:

- View the final draft project plans including unit plans, unit size, expected rents and eligibility requirements for future renters.

- Review the conclusions of the technical analysis related to well water, sewage treatment and disposal, ecological overview assessment, and rainwater/stormwater management.

- Have questions about the project answered and provide feedback to the project team.

- Learn how to support this rezoning application.

December: Coming full circle, Home: A Cortes Community Anthology was presented just in time for the holiday season. A seed, planted in the early days of 2019 and tended over many months, grew into a beautiful book - a true testament to our lovely island home. We celebrated on December 8th with a book launch, where we listened to writers read their touching words aloud and by year end we sold over $2,000 in book sales!

Additionally, December was the month of Canada Helps Giving Tuesday campaign, which was a huge fundraising success for us, bringing in approximately $12,000!

We are energized by the momentum of 2019, and hoping that 2020 will be an even bigger year. Here is our to-do list:

Raise our remaining fundraising goal of $150,000

Promote our rezoning application, including a public hearing, scheduled for spring, 2020

Break ground on 4 new cottages for the Seniors Village expansion

Submit BC Housing Grant application to fund construction of 20 homes on Rainbow Ridge

With your help, we will have another phenomenal year of progress homeward, as we know: it takes a community to raise a village!

In gratitude ~ Your Cortes Housing Committee