Photo Credit: Village of Cumberland

Housing Affordability Hits Home

Cumberland is experiencing spike housing costs making housing affordability a pressing issue

Cumberland’s grant proposal for a mix of two, three- and four-bedroom affordable housing units denied

BC Housing has been swamped with applications for grants to support affordable housing projects across Vancouver Island, and Cumberland’s has been denied. The plan for the 22-unit project is being led by the Comox Valley Transition Society (CVTS) and Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society.

Located on three adjacent lots in downtown Cumberland, the proposed development includes a mix of two, three- and four-bedroom units. The village council had approved the necessary rezoning and official community plan amendments. The next step was a provincial grant to help fund the project.

But it wasn’t to be.

In a June 14 council meeting, Mayor Leslie Baird called the news “ hard to accept” and that “people cannot keep waiting for housing.”

It was a case of too much demand and too many community projects, according to BC Housing. To maximize its impact, the provincial agency is also prioritizing larger projects with more than 50 units.

In total, funding for more than 29,000 units was applied for, with 47 different applications from Vancouver Island. That’s more demand than ever, and it’s a symptom of the growing affordability problems facing local communities.

“We’re not the only community that was not successful,” Baird said in a  story reported by the Comox Valley Record.

As a provincial Crown corporation, BC Housing provides funding to partners to assist with new builds or renovations for various affordable housing projects.

Like many Vancouver Island communities, Cumberland has experienced a spike in real estate prices, making housing affordability one of the most pressing issues facing mayors and councils.

With the next round of BC Housing funding grants not until the end of 2022, Cumberland may go straight to the top and ask Premier John Horgan to intervene.

The village is planning to seek federal grants as well.

“We will look for other options and keep pushing,” Councillor Jesse Ketler said.