Rosslanders got their first look at a construction project aimed at easing the housing crisis in town … and one that may also be the home of a new City Hall.
The Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society and the City of Rossland held a public open house last week to inform local residents of the rezoning for a proposed mixed-use project.
The city and the society have partnered to receive funding from BC Housing to build a four-storey mixed-use building on the western portion of the vacant site located on Third Avenue between Spokane Street and Washington Street — the old Emcon lot.
The intention is to use the ground floor for a purpose-built, 10,000-square-foot City Hall with flexible spaces for community use. The three upper floors will provide 37 apartments for working individuals and families.
The anchor tenant for the new building will be the City of Rossland.
The old City Hall on Columbia Avenue has lived past its usefulness, says the city, not even considering the partial collapse of the roof in 2017 which made the space unusable.
“City Hall was previously a medical office and was retrofitted for the city, but space and flexibility is limited and overall inefficient,” say the documents. The city’s temporary office on LeRoi Avenue “is also functionally and physically inadequate for staff and council use.”
The city says combining housing and civic uses in Midtown is economic and efficient use of former industrial lands while leveraging provincial dollars for housing.
“The city already owns the site, so there is no land or leasing cost, and it will continue to own the land when the project is complete,” says the city.
The intent is for the city to retain ownership of the land and entire building. The Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society would enter into a long-term lease for their units in the building.
But it’s not so easy pinning down just how much the taxpayer will be on the hook for the project, says Mayor Kathy Moore.
While the entire project cost is ball-parked at $15 million, the City Hall portion would be a little under $3 million. Those numbers are ballpark because the project hasn’t gone out to tender yet.
“So we don’t actually know,” she says of the final cost. “If we are going to use the proceeds of property we may sell, we don’t know what we’ll get for that. We don’t know what the insurance payout will be,” she says. “There really is information we don’t have just yet.”