The New Westminster school board has thrown its support behind a proposed affordable housing development on Sixth Street, across from New Westminster Secondary School.
The six-storey, 96-unit apartment building is being proposed by the Aboriginal Land Trust, Lu’ma Native Housing Society and Swahili Vision International Association. It would be built on six lots, from 823 to 841 Sixth St.
The project is designed to provide multigenerational, multicultural housing for members of the urban Indigenous and Swahili communities, according to a letter to the school board from the Lu’ma Native Housing Society.
Trustee Maya Russell spoke in favour of the proposed development at the Jan. 26 school board meeting.
“I am excited to see the amount of affordable housing that is planned so close to the school and the fact that it will accommodate families. We know that three-bedroom housing is incredibly hard to find for families,” she said. “And that it’s going to house Indigenous families – many of whom, we’ve heard from our staff, have actually been driven out of our city due to the cost of housing.”
Russell suggested the board express its formal support for the project – a motion that passed with no opposition.
PROJECT NEEDS GOVERNMENT FUNDING
The Aboriginal Land Trust has applied to the city for an amendment to the official community plan, a rezoning and a development permit to pave the way for the project.
The organizations behind the housing project say they will require financial support from all levels of government to make the development viable.
New Westminster city council has approved several preliminary steps related to the development, including directing staff to:
- explore options for enhancing the city’s affordable housing reserve fund and updating the funding allocation guidelines, with the intent of giving council a chance to support more affordable housing projects each year;
- report back with a recommendation to council about financially supporting this particular development; and
- work with the applicant to “further improve the transition” to the surrounding neighbourhood, which is largely made up of single-family homes.
– with files from Theresa McManus