Frequently Asked Questions
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1. What is Paisley Place?
Paisley Place is an affordable rental housing project proposed to be built and operated by Gabriola Housing Society (GHS), an incorporated non-profit society and registered charity. Its aim is to provide comfortable and secure rental housing at an affordable rent (maximum 30% of before-tax household income), mainly to people with low to modest incomes. GHS plans to build 24 homes (in triplex buildings) comprising studios, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 3-bedroom dwellings. Dwelling sizes will range from 455 sq ft to 1387 sq ft., averaging 900 sq. ft. (Three-bedroom homes will have two storeys.)
2. How is this proposal being dealt with by the Islands Trust at the local level?
In January 2020 GHS applied to the Gabriola Island LTC to rezone two properties on Paisley Place for multi-dwelling affordable housing. Community Information Meetings were held in August and December 2020. Below is a graphic showing the approval process as presented at the December 10, 2020, Community Information Meeting. The LTC rezoning process was completed on October 22, 2022 (details below graphic).
Proposed Bylaws 306 (Official Community Plan) and 307 (Land Use Bylaw): In January 2021, the LTC gave Second and Third Readings to those bylaws. IT Executive Committee approved them, and then forwarded OCP Bylaw 306 to BC Minister of Municipal Affairs Josie Osborne, who approved it in May 2021. Proposed Bylaw 308 (Housing Agreement): In May, 2022, the LTC gave Second and Third Readings to bylaw 308 (HA) and IT Executive Committee approved it on June 8, 2022 recommending to Gabriola LTC that “…before it adopts Bylaw 308 (Housing Agreement) the interests of the SFN in this bylaw are confirmed”. On June 16, 2022, the LTC gave final reading to the three bylaws (306, 307, and 308) and adopted them. This decision rezoned Lots 1 and 2, north and east of Paisley Place for affordable rental housing for people with low to moderate incomes. On October 27, 2022, on the IT Staff’s recommendation, the LTC approved GHS’s application for a Building Development Permit (OCP Development Permit Area #11: Environmental Protection) and a Development Variance Permit for Paisley Place Lots 1 and 2.
3. Where is Paisley Place?
4. Why was Paisley Place chosen as the site for the housing project?
After extensive research, the Paisley Place land was one of the options that GHS considered appropriate
- the site is close to services (school, clinic, shopping, public transport)
- an access road is already in place
- the site is adjacent to two forested parks and a public trail system
- in Aug 2019, the land was donated to GHS by the owner, Emcon Services
5. Why is this affordable rental housing needed on Gabriola?
GHS believes that a strong community needs all members, not just the wealthy and physically able, to have healthy, secure, affordable homes. Multiple studies (including by the Islands Trust) over the last decade have found an acute shortage of affordable, decent, secure rental housing here (as elsewhere). Most communities are experiencing the same problem—moving elsewhere is not a solution.
6. What is affordable housing?
The Islands Trust Northern Islands Housing Needs Assessment Report (June 2018) defined it this way:
“Generally, affordable housing refers to housing units that are affordable by that section of society whose income is below the median household income.
The definition of affordable housing varies; however, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and British Columbia define affordable housing as housing that does not cost more than 30% of a household’s annual income, which includes utilities.”
7. When will this housing be built and occupied?
Information updated May 2023: In June 2021, BC Housing notified GHS that our application for funding through the 2021 Community Housing Fund (CHF) had not been chosen. We decided that we were “disappointed but not deterred!”. Since then, we have continued developing the design and construction plans for the project, in order to re-apply as a “shovel-ready” project at the next opportunity for the CHF program, expected in mid/late 2023. If GHS is chosen for that funding, we would build in 2024 and would expect occupancy in late 2025. We also continue to explore additional sources of funding.
8. What about water?
Water licence: As part of the provincial government’s Water Licence application process, on December 3, 2020 GHS received the Hydrogeological Technical Review (3.2MB PDF). This review contains important observations and conclusions that would guide the decision re providing the Water Licence for Paisley Place. GHS received the Water Licence from the BC government on May 3, 2021.
Testing of the main well on the project site indicates that there is adequate water to meet the needs of the project. GHS has also investigated rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, and a grey water system for toilet-flushing and minimal irrigation. Our professional planning team has decided to use rainwater catchment rather than a greywater system for non-potable indoor water.
Water Management Plan: GHS has submitted a Water Management Plan to the LTC for its consideration.
9. What about septic?
A Wastewater Report indicated that either a Type 2 or a Type 3 system is adequate for the site. GHS has chosen to go with a Type 3 advanced secondary treatment system.
10. Where will the money come from to build and operate the housing?
- BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund (provincial government)
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
- Private community donations
- Grants from foundations, VanCity, etc.
11. What is the approximate development and construction budget?
Construction costs have risen sharply from the numbers in our 2021 budget. Therefore, our overall estimated development and construction budget is now approximately $9.2 million.
12. How can Gabriolans be assured that the property will remain zoned for affordable housing?
As required by Gabriola’s current Official Community Plan, on August 18, 2022, Housing Agreement By-law #308 was registered as a covenant on the property titles of Lots 1 and 2 Paisley Place. Among other stipulations, the Housing Agreement Bylaw establishes certain eligibility requirements for prospective tenants.
13. What will the tenants’ income levels be?
If GHS obtains funding from BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund, there will be three categories of eligible incomes:
- Deep Subsidy: 20% of the homes (5 of the 24 units) will be for households receiving income/disability assistance.
- Rent Geared to Income: 50% of the homes (12 of the 24 units) will be for households with incomes below BC Housing’s Housing Income Limit for the Nanaimo area (about $56,000 in 2021)
- Affordable Market Rent: 30% of homes (7 of the 24 units) will be for households with incomes below the average Nanaimo-area rent, not open market rent (2021: about $113,000).
The number of homes of each size will be: 4 studio, 8 one-bedroom, 4 two-bedroom, and 8 three-bedroom. The average size of the homes still meets the OCP limit of 900 square feet. A specific mixture of these four sizes will be assigned to each of the three income categories.
14. Who can live at Paisley Place?
- BC Housing sets the application eligibility requirements regarding household income levels and assets. Reference: bchousing.org/projects-partners/Building-BC/CHF
- As required by Gabriola’s current Official Community Plan, on August 18, 2022, Housing Agreement By-law #308 was registered as a covenant on the property titles of Lots 1 and 2 Paisley Place. Among other stipulations, the Housing Agreement Bylaw establishes certain eligibility requirements for prospective tenants.
- Tenants must be able to live independently (that is, there will be no on-site services provided by GHS for people with special needs).
15. Who will select the tenants?
- People who meet the eligibility requirements and wish to live at Paisley Place will first apply through BC Housing (BCH).
- The GHS team will interview prospective tenants and use a decision matrix to select tenants and then assign them to vacant dwellings as appropriate.
- GHS will set policy around such things as pets/smoking/vehicles, etc.
16. Who will manage the operations of the project?
GHS will hire a Housing Manager, and other staff as needed.
17. How will tenant disputes be handled?
- GHS will sign a BC Residential Tenancy Agreement with each household.
- The GHS Housing Manager will work with tenants to resolve issues.