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General News · 1st May 2024
sadhu johnston
Responding to the urgency of the Cortes housing crisis, we, the CHS have wanted to explore many more avenues of creating housing on island, from house sharing, to changing our by-laws for increased density, to facilitating rental housing, just in case BC Housing did not come through with a grant for the Rainbow Ridge development.

It is never prudent to put all our eggs in only one basket.

It is indeed well that we have taken this approach since we were disappointed to hear that we did not get the grant from BC Housing to build out our 24 units on Rainbow Ridge. We are however pleased that they have awarded us over $100,000 to continue to progress the project. We ticked all the boxes with our most recent application, but the housing agency does tend to favor urban development where their housing dollars stretch considerably further. We are meeting with them to debrief in a couple weeks, so we’ll know then how we need to tweak the project in order to get their funding.

Everything that makes our island unique and special also has the downside of making it harder and more expensive to do a project of this magnitude, which becomes less attractive to an agency with limited funds and maximum increased demands.

While disappointed that we didn’t make the cut for the full BC Housing funding , we are more determined than ever to explore all avenues and hope to have exciting news in the very near future of other efforts we are undertaking to provide housing in our community. The silver lining is that at least this land is designated for community housing use. We are also exploring how we might utilize the Rainbow Ridge land using other models to provide land for people to build their own housing. To that end, on May 18th at 10 AM, we will be hosting a zoom forum on community land trusts and will highlight projects on Orcas and Lopez that are amazing examples. Here’s the zoom link to join-in:

In addition to the $100,000 from BC Housing, we are also very pleased that the Strathcona Regional District Board approved staff recommendations to provide $140,000 from the Community Works Fund to build the road to serve the townhouse development. A special thanks to Regional Director Mark Vonesch for his support for this funding as well as housing initiatives more broadly.

We are a very resilient community and together we will find other ways and means to keep moving forward on our housing projects on Rainbow Ridge as well as other housing initiatives for Cortes Island.