Fruitvale hosts well-attended middle school forum

Fruitvale council hosted their public forum Sept. 12 on their master plan for the middle school

The Village of Fruitvale welcomed residents to its community forum at Haines Park on Sept. 12.

The forum presented the village’s development plans for the land occupied by the former Beaver Valley Middle School. Council erected informative poster boards set along the fence, so attendees could take a self-guided tour while social distancing.

“It was great,” said the village’s chief administrative officer (CAO) Kelli Tuttle. “It was very well attended in the morning … we overall had about 50 attendants so that was a pretty good turnout.”

Members of Village Council were on hand to answer questions and support the initiative to develop the 3.7 hectares of land between 1800 Columbia Gardens Road and 1795 Green Road. The middle school has sat idle since 2003 and was purchased by the village in two different sections in 2018 and 2019.

Last year, Fruitvale council began the process that would transform the site into a mix of affordable and market housing. After considerable time and effort researching, reviewing, planning, and consulting with residents, the council endorsed the consultants Master Plan and presented it to the public at the forum.

“We did get quite a bit of feedback, but we still have it open so residents can send feedback to us still. But for the most part I think it was all quite positive. Everybody is happy to see something being done with the land and we are moving forward.”

Phase 1 of the project encompasses the land immediately along Columbia Gardens Rd. and is designed to include low density residential homes such as duplexes, triplexes, and/or fourplexes, as well as medium density residential to provide accessible, inclusive, and affordable housing for those who qualify for BC Community Housing Fund (CHF).

Options include accessible single-level apartments for low-income seniors, inclusive housing with multi-bedroom units that is accessible and affordable, and can accommodate disabled or special needs adults and their caregivers.

Another section provides workforce housing with entry-level homes for young families or adults with low-to-moderate incomes.

Accordingly, 20 per cent of the units will be rented at deep subsidy rates, 30 per cent will be rent-geared-to-income, and 50 per cent to moderate income affordable housing. Finally, a key component of the development will include a childcare facility.

The plan also includes amenities like a community garden, landscaping features and pathways that flow around the structures, as well as meet the stormwater management needs.

The village has had difficulties getting funding for the demolition of the middle school, however, Tuttle says it is all part of the process and council will continue to pursue their options.

“We’ve been looking and trying to apply for everything we can, but so far we haven’t been lucky yet … We’re open right now, and we’re trying to do anything we can to make it work.”

The next step entails sending out a childcare-needs-assessment survey to Beaver Valley residents in order to apply for the BC New Spaces grant.

“Once we know that, it will help us better define the spaces required and then we can move forward for applying for a grant for the childcare space,” added Tuttle.

In addition to the childcare grant, council will also look to secure funding from Community Housing Fund and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Fruitvale and RDKB Area ‘A’ residents can access the poster-boards of the Middle School and Haines Park master plans at the Village of Fruitvale website, or at the pole yard in Fruitvale.

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