A $13 million affordable housing project is another step closer to becoming reality after Smithers Council approved the design plans in principle with some modifications at its Nov. 8 meeting.
The Dze L K’ant Housing Society’s affordable housing project will be funded by BC Housing and will serve families and elders from the Indigenous community.
The site will be on the town-owned, 2.4 acre former LB Warner site on Main Street, near Tenth Ave. The gymnastics club will continue to have their gym on one side of the property and the apartment building will be on the other.
The town has already demolished the old buildings on the site and remediated the contaminated soil that was the result of B.C. Ministry of Transportation works yard having been previously located there.
The Town agreed to demolish the buildings on site and remediate the land to help create more housing in the community. The cost to do that, at the town’s expense, was $650,000. It will be paid through the Northern Capital and Planning Grant program.
The design is being given approval in principle because the property is still considered a ‘contaminated site’ until it has been deemed clean by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
However, the project’s design team would like to get a head start on the planning process so construction can begin as soon as the environmental certificate is received.
Legally, the Town cannot approve development applications for lands involving contaminated sites. While the site was remediated last year, it is still in the approval process and needs certification that it is no longer contaminated.
The six conditions that council agreed with Town staff to modify on the project’s design are: the developer needs to provide a lighting plan for review; install two bollards around the new fire hydrant; install a sign next to the gate facing Tenth Avenue, close to the playground, limiting its access for emergency services; replace a portion of the existing chain link fence with decorative picket fencing; designate two existing parking stalls on plans as electric vehicle and add additional landscaping at the rear side of the building, ensuring visual attractiveness of the development when viewed from Tenth Avenue.
The plan is currently to have at least 31 units, ranging in size from studio to four bedrooms.
The intended timeline to start construction is the summer of 2023.