Langley’s Christian Life Assembly church is getting back into the housing business, pushing ahead on plans to develop an 97-unit affordable rental housing development.
As one of the community’s largest and most active churches, CLA announced plans Sunday to form a new society – headed up by former Langley City mayor and Liberal MLA Peter Fassbender – and to push ahead on plans for an 97-unit rental housing development next to the church on 56th Avenue.
The project, which was initially made public last year, will be geared primarily towards families and independent seniors, said CLA’s lead pastor Derrick Hamre.
“This project is a result of a partnership between CLA and BC Housing. As a church, our contribution is the land. We will be working closely with BC Housing to finalize the funding model for the build and the proforma for the operational elements,” he explained.
Hamre elaborated that a new society, the CLA Housing Society, has been established to oversee the design, construction, and ultimately operate the development.
Heading up the new society as president will be former Langley City mayor and Liberal MLA Peter Fassbender.
He said the new project will be for people who are having trouble affording rent. Seniors, families, and a small number of people on government assistance are expected to make up the new residents when the project is completed.
It’s affordable housing, not social housing, Fassbender said. The building won’t be taking in people off the streets, like the supportive housing project approved last year for the former Quality Inn off 200th Street.
This is the second time CLA has helped found a housing facility; the first was Sharon Village – a cooperative housing complex for seniors – which was established 30 years ago.
This proposed project came about after CLA responded to a request for proposal (RFP) by BC Housing , as part of the province’s Building BC: Community Housing Fund.
Then, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, the CLA membership was asked to weigh in on the idea, and Hamre said the congregation voted in favour.
Next up, it’s out to the public for feedback, explained Ian Martens, a CLA board member and chair of the church’s building committee.
“There will be two streams moving forward: an operational stream and a community-engagement stream. The operational stream will focus on architectural designs, studies, logistics, liaising with the Township, and all the typical activities that take place leading-up to a public hearing,” Martens said.
Last November, the provincial government announced $9.7-million in funding towards the $30-million CLA project that was said to be offer a mixed of affordablility – with likely three levels and price points.
“The idea is a five-storey woodframe building on a concrete parkade [on the church property],” Hamre said in an online post last fall. “It would beautify our property with walk-ways, park-like features, a playground, and community areas.”
Meanwhile, his team has also engaged a local public affairs consulting firm to lead a stakeholder engagement initiative, which will allow “the broader community to journey with us in the coming months,” he said.
Asked what that journey would involve, Martens noted that it will include a series of meetings with local stakeholders, an online community platform, open houses, and a moderated community forum.
The complex is being proposed on the church’s Langley campus at 21277 – 56th Ave.
Fassbender, who has attended CLA for the past 42 years, has been a “huge advocate” for the development, Hamre said, noting that Fassbender will serve as president of the new society.
“We are delighted that the membership saw fit to vote in favour of this exciting development,” said the former BC cabinet minister. “We are very thankful for the tremendous support we have already received from the Province of British Columbia through BC Housing, as well as the Township of Langley, and are looking forward to engaging the broader community to answer any questions they may have.”
He said that, optimistically, the building could be complete within as little as two years.
Helping it along will be the enthusiasm of Langley Township – which recently voted to exempt such low-income housing projects from development cost charges.
“They want these units up and running as soon as possible,” Fassbender said.
Mayor Jack Froese of the Township of Langley said that he and his council are “very pleased to see CLA come forward with this innovative project that will help to meet the critical need for more affordable rental properties in the community.”
Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, also spoke to the need for such projects.
“Too many families and seniors are struggling to stay in their community due to rising housing costs and low vacancy rates,” she said. “Through our Community Housing Fund investments, we are building the affordable homes that people need to stay in the places they live and work.”
Asked what excites him most, Hamre summarizes the project in its entirety by saying: “We are genuinely excited to be able to demonstrate our commitment to the community by simply providing assistance without expectation of a return. This project is truly a fulfillment of our church’s mission, vision, and values.”
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