The City of Salmon Arm has established an affordable housing reserve to be prepared should a public-private partnership opportunity arise.
Council approved a budget amendment to direct $200,000 towards the reserve, in an effort to help address affordable housing needs in Salmon Arm. In a related memo to council, city administrator Carl Bannister explains the reserve could potentially be used to fund development cost charges (DCC) or offsite servicing costs or “other aspects for bonafide affordable housing initiatives and/or projects.”
“Council may be in a position to use the reserve to potentially assist a non-profit housing operator who would work in conjunction with a developer and/or BC Housing (or some other affordable housing project as determined by council)…,” writes Bannister. “This may allow the city to act in a supporting role for affordable housing in Salmon Arm and leverage city resources to achieve the most effective housing outcome…”
Bannister notes DCCs and offsite servicing costs were identified by the city’s Housing Task Force as barriers to development of affordable housing.
“BC Housing is being very assertive in its programs now and there’s an opportunity for an agency to be able to submit an RFP (request for proposal). Part of that RFP is quite clear on the need for municipalities to play an equity role, that doesn’t necessarily mean land, that can mean other things,” explained Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond, who co-chairs the task force with Coun. Tim Lavery. “And I think the way this is set up, it gives us some flexibility to be able to respond to those opportunities. That doesn’t mean the money will be spent, that doesn’t mean the money has to be spent, it means the money is available in the event that a group is successful in their work.”
Council offered unanimous support for the reserve, noting affordable housing is not something the city can afford to provide on its own.
“What I do know is that cities with $30 million budgets like ours cannot build affordable housing, non-market housing on its own. There’s no way,” commented Coun. Alan Harrison. “And we also know that project developers cannot build affordable housing because the material, the land and the labour is way too expensive. So we have to try something else. And in order to access funds, we have to have some skin in the game, so this is it.”