To our friends and supporters of the Rainbow Ridge project; we would like to update you on our progress over the past six months. We’ve been focusing our limited staff resources on moving this project forward. Here is a quick overview of what’s been on our plate
- The Cortes Housing Society (CHS) gained tax exempt status as a charity. We can now hold the Rainbow Ridge lands towards the benefit of community housing as well as issue tax receipts for donations. Up to now, the Cortes Island Seniors Society, as our umbrella charity had shouldered all the financial responsibility. Without them, we would have been unable to purchase the land and move as far forward as we have today. Our gratitude to CISS is profound.
- We have fulfilled our agreement with the CISS to complete phase 1 of the project by building the four cottage expansion in the Seniors Village. All the new units are now occupied by long time island residents whom otherwise might not have been able to remain in our community.
- When Rainbow Ridge was not selected by BC Housing for funding last year, we were able to secure a pre-construction loan through VanCity Credit Union. This enabled us to continue our commitment of getting our project ‘shovel ready’ by early 2023.
- We continue to explore alternative funding options so as not to close any doors. Being ‘shovel ready’ is a necessity before reapplying for funding, publicly through BC Housing, or privately through Vancity in partnership with CMHC co-investment from the federal government.
- Due to the extreme increase in the cost of materials and labour over the past two years, we have hired Iredale Architects to find less expensive ways to build 24 townhomes.
- We are in the final design development stage, working with engineers and consultants on the site infrastructure and housing unit plans. This should be complete by mid-September. These plans will be shared with the community at a Town Hall meeting this October.
- Around the same time, an up-to-date budget will be professionally costed by our contractor. The construction documents and drawings will be completed over the winter.
- We are now awaiting approval from the Ministry of Transportation for our road design. Their go-ahead is required for our 6 acre subdivision application, which allows us to keep future mortgage and loan debt tied to the first phase of the project and free the remaining 45 acres for future community use.
- We’ve also been busy with two generous land gifts, which we are hoping to sell to further boost the financial feasibility of our business case, and bolster our viability as construction loan and mortgage applicants.
As you well know, our housing crisis is much worse now than it was four years ago when we started this project. Because of this, we’ve worked with business and economic leaders to explore the possibility of temporary short-term housing; but after doing the math, it became clear that our best strategy was not to splinter our finances and our energies. We need to use our very limited financial and staff resources to simply stay focused on the opportunity to break ground in 2023.
In the meantime, you can help to keep this affordable housing project moving forward in several ways: gifting the community with your volunteer energy, offering financial support, joining our board of directors, or simply cheering us on and keeping in touch.
This project is a huge task with a thousand tiny mandatory details along the way. Every “i” must be dotted and every “t” crossed in order to qualify for funding; but with your support, we will get there
In deep appreciation,
Sandra Wood, CHS Executive Director
On behalf of the Cortes Community Housing Society