May 26th, 2024

New affordable housing project unveiled in city

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 11, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Fifty new affordable housing units will be created in Lethbridge thanks to a collaboration between the provincial and municipal governments.
The City of Lethbridge is providing $1,295,000 towards a project at 1730 10 Ave. S., the former Seasons Lethbridge retirement community, across from Chinook Regional Hospital.
The province is contributing $2.2 million to the project through its Affordable Housing Partnership Program which will see CONCEPT Investment Partners Ltd. create the new housing units for residents 55 and older in the building.
The building will now be known as the Edwards and when the project is completed, 37 of the units will be considered affordable housing by the City of Lethbridge’s definition which mean 30 per cent or less of provincial income thresholds.
The City’s funding was conditional to the project securing matching federal or provincial funding. No operational funding has been requested from the City.
The project is one of eight that will be getting a total of $66 million in provincial funding that will support 335 new units and 129 shelter beds.
The province is also providing $4 million to the Lethbridge Housing Authority to build a homeless shelter in the city.
Ken Harvie, managing partner of CONCEPT, said outside the building on Friday morning that his company originally had no plan for it when they purchased it. But plans for the building evolved over time, he said.
Originally the Seasons building had 60 units on three floors but CONCEPT’s plan to create commercial space on the eastern portion of the main floor for hopefully a small grocer or large convenience store for residents and others in the area, leaving 50 independent living units on the others.
Those units, which are being renovated, will range from bachelor suites to two-bedroom units and all will be provided at below market value.
Total cost of the project is about $6,250,000 with the rest of the funding coming from other sources.
CONCEPT’s renovations include updated electrical systems, new kitchen cabinets, flooring and a new common area for residents.
City of Lethbridge Housing Solutions Coordinator in Community Social Development Matthew Pitcher said the City was happy to announce the funding for the project.
In October of 2023, city council approved capital funding to CONCEPT for the project, he said.
The City’s funding commitment ensures there “is some level of affordability continued for a 20-year term,” added Pitcher.
Public and private partnership is not something the City has typically done, said Pitcher, adding “we’re really grateful to CONCEPT Investment Partners and to the provincial/federal government for being able to come in on that kind of partnership to make this type of project a reality. Ultimately, we look forward to also having other opportunities to action different types of housing initiatives through our municipal housing strategy which will be coming forward in a couple months,” said Pitcher.
Affordable housing is a gap in the city, said Pitcher. The municipal housing strategy will include a comprehensive needs assessment which will also highlight that gap, he added.
Harvie said CONCEPT started to look at reports about housing and the need in the community and the company decided to do some research.
The Edwards building was constructed in 2003 and is fully accessible with hallways and doors wide enough for wheelchairs.
“We thought this was a great building for an adaptive re-use into a new affordable living community,” said Harvie.
“Basically the profile is that all 50 suites will be below-market rents,” he said.
The location has proximity to the hospital and in a 55+ community, CONCEPT knows many people don’t have vehicles so access to the hospital and medical appointments is attractive, Harvie said.
“It’s been months in the making to get to a public announcement and we’ll continue to work with the province and the City as well as looking at the federal government for other projects. As a private developer, if we can bring product to the market faster, which is what we do, we’ll continue to take a look at the opportunities,” Harvie added.
Acting mayor Mark Campbell, speaking on behalf of council, said he wanted to thank Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jason Nixon and the government for their financial support to the project.
“We all know housing is a major and topic of concern,” said Campbell, noting last October council was pleased to support the project.
“We often get asked about this building here. Even though the City does not own or manage this property, we were pleased to be able to contribute to it being used for a vital purpose as we move forward,” he added.
“We are constantly working to increase our affordable housing supply and provide facilities that meet community needs. We will continue to work to identify and support projects that ensure those in need have somewhere to turn and safe, affordable places to live,” said Nixon in a media statement.
The province says the eight projects in six communities “will provide new, innovative and sustainable housing solutions for those who need it the most.”

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