Cortes Community Housing

It’s happening!

affordable year round housing
for community members
of all ages.


Q: Can you provide a timeline for when there will be new units available for occupancy?

A: BEST CASE SCENARIO: IF BC Housing approves our first phase of building 4 additional Seniors Cottages before the end of 2019, then we will start construction in 2020, depending how early in the spring we begin, then these units will be ready to occupy by late 2020 or early 2021. We will also follow up with another BC Housing grant application in 2020 to fund infrastructure (water, sewage, roads) for 20 more units in 2021 with phased housing construction through 2022. Best case scenario = 3 years for occupancy of new units on the new land.

Q: Who has been hired on contract?

A: Ian Scott as Project Consultant, Sandra Wood as Project Co-ordinator, Hayley Newell as Administrative Assistant, Cathy Winter as Book Keeper.

Q: How will donated funds be used?

A: First the land was purchased with donations and loans. Now we are doing the community consultation and design work together with RWA Group as our Architects for the cluster housing concepts, with technical support from engineers and consultants on the infrastructure planning of water & waste systems, roads, power and all the other pre-construction details including a rezoning application. When completed, this “shovel-ready” project plan will be submitted to BC Housing to fund the actual construction of new affordable rental housing on Cortes Island.

Q: Waste Water Systems? The septic system in the Seniors Village already has sufficient capacity to handle the sewage requirements of the 4 cottage expansion of the Seniors Village. We are working with Ron McMurtrie & Associates to design an advanced Waste Water system for Rainbow Ridge to handle all the on-site septic needs for 20 future rental units.

Q: Freshwater/Stormwater? We have hired a hydrogeologist who will design a stormwater management system for the property, determine aquifer capacity for drinking water, and design a surface water testing system for the Rainbow Ridge property that protects the watershed and reverses some of the damage incurred by the last clear cutting on that land.  We are working in collaboration with FOCI on lake stewardship.

Rezoning Questions for Rainbow Ridge 

Why is CISS applying to rezone a portion of 965 Beasley Rd (now referred to as Rainbow Ridge)?

Our proposed rezoning would allow for the development of up to 20 units, plus the possibility of 2 flex studio units of affordable rental housing on a newly subdivided lot. The housing will serve families, seniors and single people who are struggling to find stable and affordable housing. The proposed lot would be 2 hectares or approximately 5 acres, with an additional 0.45 hectares or 1 acre dedicated as a public road. 

Does Rainbow Ridge have enough water to sustainably support 20 units of housing? 

Yes. We have worked with Hydrologist Allan Dakin. His report documents that the hydrogeology of the area is comprised of a relatively deep layer of Quadra Sands. The main aquifer in these sands is recharged by Hague Lake and has excellent water quality, low risk of contamination and has significant volumes. Drawing water from this aquifer will have no discernable impact on our neighbour’s wells. 

How will sewage be dealt with and what impact will this project have on our lakes?

We are working with Ron McMurtrie & Associates who recommend an Advantex Type 2 sewage treatment system, similar to the Cortes Natural Food Co-op. The Rainbow Ridge drain fields will be located on the furthest western edge of the property over 800 meters away from the lake, where our waste water will be filtered and cleaned underground, with trees and shrubs from the forest taking up the nutrients to insure that this system does not contribute to algae blooms. Our understanding is that given the distance of Rainbow Ridge’s proposed wastewater drainfield, the underground filtered travel and settling path out of the water column, plus the opportunities for plant uptake along the way, in addition to regular testing of water coming out of the disposal fields – that this project will most likely have no impact on the lakes.

This proposal includes clustered housing and duplexes and/or triplexes. Why are you designing for greater density? 

Rainbow Ridge is within walking distance of Mansons Landing, the main village centre on Cortes Island. This area is where our Official Community Plan (OCP) “encourages the direction of density for residential and commercial uses in the Mansons Landing area.” By designing a clustered housing development with duplex and triplex buildings, which have a maximum height of 2 stories, we will minimize our neighbourhood footprint, allowing for more significant tree retention and forest conservation than a more widely dispersed acreage pattern with individual cottages.  

How will this project affect the rural character of the island? 

Concentrating affordable housing, which requires density in order to be affordable, in a village setting amongst the more developed area of Cortes is the best way to preserve our cherished rural way of life. It reduces sprawl and encourages walking as it is close to the shops, services and amenities of downtown Mansons. At the same time we can maintain significant natural spaces and forest throughout the 2 hectare site; approximately 50% of the existing forest area will be retained and buildings will account for only 8% of the site. The current proposal for Rainbow Ridge meets the design principles for a rural village, including connectivity, respect for its natural setting, keeping nature at its edges, central common spaces and compact buildings. The village is the very definition of rural life and it is what this project aims to create.

Does this rezoning set a precedent?

No, any future housing project must come back to the community for approval and rezoning, which would completely depend upon the location and features specific to that new proposal.   

Why are you are developing in area established as a recommended Forest Retention zone by the Ecological Site Investigation? 


Our proposed rezoning and overall vision for the site is consistent with the overall recommendations of the Ecological Site Investigation. We need to balance our ability to achieve forest conservation on this residential zoned property with the desire to cluster housing close to existing services for ease of access and to keep the development costs down, allowing us to build affordable housing.    

What is the plan for the rest of the remaining land?

The remaining 45 acres of the property will continue to be held in trust and be retained for future use as a community asset including a dedicated public trail.