Groups chase similar goals

The attainable housing committee released a request for proposals Friday seeking to hire a team of consultants to study Trail’s housing woes.

Studies underway on housing, downtown Trail revitalization

and location for skateboard park

The attainable housing committee released a request for proposals Friday seeking to hire a team of consultants to study Trail’s housing woes.

But proponents are starting to acknowledge the importance of a more comprehensive and coordinated planning process as other committees undertake similar studies.

The committee, part of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team, is looking for a consultant to study housing needs and formulate a strategy for Greater Trail.

The study is being done in cooperation with the Columbia Basin Trust, which donated $15,000 toward the assessment, and the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association.

In addition to this latest study, the downtown opportunities and action planning committee and the Trail skatepark committee are also currently paying consultants to assess how to improve the core, Gulch and West Trail and where to build a skateboard park.

While the situations vary, they share many common interests.

“I believe strongly in coordination between economic development and social development,” said attainable housing chair Jan Morton. “It all fits together, when I look at housing; housing is an ecosystem and we have to look at it from one end of the spectrum to the other.”

The housing strategy will address a 10-year period and will recommend planning principles, and policy options and priorities that will lead to an appropriate mix of attainable housing in the Lower Columbia. With a large number of Teck workers getting ready to retire, the study will address the availability of housing for workers and seniors, as well as affordable housing.

The committee has met with all Greater Trail area councils to solicit funding and at the same time, indicated that staff would cooperate fully with consultants in accessing information.

While some communities create a housing authority to monitor and implement policy, the adoption of such an agency would be up to each municipality, suggested Morton.

Businessperson Gina Ironmonger sits on both the action committee and housing committee.

“I think both are interconnected and intertwined and I think that definitely transformation (to the core) is overdue,” she said.

And while the redevelopment of the downtown is vital, considering how to achieve this is something that requires input from all facets of society, she added.

“For me, development comes from listening to the community but not letting the developers develop it, but having a plan of action so that the developers can develop it.”

Costs are always a concern, says the real estate consultant, but suggests that projects need not be done all at once rather over a longer period of time.

“If you are envisioning it, you can do what you can afford at the time — and if you have a plan, the developers will build toward your plan.”

The action committee has created an email address and website to interact and hear residents’ ideas and concerns, something that hasn’t always been done.

“It’s the lack of coordination and collaboration that really gets to me sometime,” said FAIR’s Ann Godderis. “The person with the access to money or the strongest voice will create something but it’s not done in a collaborative way, when it’s clear that’s what is most needed.”

To engage the community, government and private sector, FAIR will be holding a community forum and film on Feb. 23.

“We’re hoping to get some more discussion going and get information out to people how they can plug in,” said Godderis.

Although Morton, also the Skills Centre director, is all in favour of cooperating with the various committees, she balked at the suggestion that committees join under one group to reduce costs and bureaucracy.

Rather, she sees the future role of the housing committee as an ongoing gadfly that prods local government and private institutions to action.

“We’re going to monitor, we’re going to encourage and we’re going to nudge until we see the results,” said Morton. “In the end, policy has to be made by the municipalities but we’re going to influence conditions.”

The studies are in their initial stages and coordinating a comprehensive plan has yet to be determined, but the parties involved are looking towards future consultation.