An artist's drawing of how Tall Tree Place will look once it's built. The complex is made up of three-storey town houses.

Photo Credit: Wiser Projects

Tall Tree Place Now One Step Closer to Shovels in the Ground

The Cumberland project lost a grant application last year, but organizers didn't give up

“We know we want this project,” said Councillor Vickey Brown

A 22-unit affordable housing project in Cumberland is getting another shot at life. The project, called g̱wax̱’dzi dsas, or Tall Tree Place, was proposed in 2019 for 3345 Second St.

Cumberland town council voted in favour of offering a tax exemption for improvements made on the land. They did so to bring down the cost of the project. They also hope the show of goodwill by council will make it easier for the project organizers to apply for federal grant funding.

The project is being spearheaded by the Comox Valley Transition Society (CVTS) and Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society. Wiser Projects is acting as the agent to bring together both groups.

The plan includes two-, three- and four-bedroom units. At least 70% of the units would be rented for no more than “rent geared to income,” or 30% of the occupant’s income.

Last year, the project organizers submitted a grant application to BC Housing. Their application was rejected, but not because it was a weak application. It’s just that BC Housing got more affordable housing applications than ever before.

“This is hard to accept,” Mayor Leslie Baird said at the time. “These people cannot keep waiting for housing.”

But Wiser Projects didn’t give up. They asked council back in August to look at a couple of ways to support the development.

Aside from offering the tax exemption, council also considered a few other options. Council turned down waiving development cost charges because the town will still need to upgrade sewers and roads around the new building.

Council is also looking at waiving parking requirements.

“We know we want this project,” Councillor Vickey Brown said at the meeting. She added that council’s financial support would help strengthen Wiser’s future grant applications.

“I think we need to give a little.”

The discussion over this project got councillors talking about supporting affordable housing overall. They passed another motion at that meeting to look into setting up an annual pot of money to help get affordable housing projects off the ground.