Affordable Housing

Updated: May 2022


Affordable housing supply is critical to maintain so as to ensure a diverse and equitable community while also providing affordability for all earning levels of the local workforce. This has been a primary focus for this Council as well as the last and is one of the four pillars contained in the District’s Strategic Plan.

Housing by the Numbers:

  • 385 Affordable Housing units have been built in recent years;
  • 135 Affordable Housing units are currently under construction;
  • 46 Purpose-built rental units have been built in recent years;
  • 234 Purpose-built rental units are currently under construction;

 

Westwinds senior housing development

The Westwinds seniors housing development in Squamish is now open, providing 232 affordable rental homes for low-income seniors. 

Located at 38275 Third Avenue, the five-storey building features a mix of one-bedroom and one- bedroom-plus-den units. Eight of the units are wheelchair accessible. Residents will have access to a range of amenities, including a fitness area, multi-purpose common areas and storage space for personal items, bicycles and scooters.

Spirit Creek Apartments (formerly Buckley Avenue Affordable Rental Housing)

Construction on the Spirit Creek Apartments is well underway, with occupancy on the building planned for Summer 2022. Sea to Sky Community Services Society (SSCS) will operate it when it opens. For more details please visit the Affordable Rental Housing Projects page. For more details on potentially moving to the building, please contact SSCS directly using the link below.

To learn more about the project please visit the SSCS website here.

 Squamish Community Housing Society

The District has established the Squamish Community Housing Society to increase the supply, availability and access to affordable housing options across the community and entire housing spectrum. The Society will serve as a single point of access for residents to access non-market and affordable housing rentals, and will work with the District of Squamish, non-profit housing agencies and the community to grow and sustain a diverse range and supply of affordable housing options.

The Society was formally established in December 2021 and is intended to be operational by mid-2022 once the positions of Board of Directors and the Executive Director have been filled, recruitment for which is now underway. Once operational, its first steps will be to establish a single point of contact and a waiting list for affordable housing in the community outside of individual non-profit housing providers, and assume management of affordable housing units that are being provided in new developments as part of Community Amenity Contributions related to re-zonings. It is anticipated that a number of these units will reach the occupancy stage in late 2023 or 2024. The Society has also been tasked with the development of a new housing project in the community within the next few years.

The Squamish Community Housing Society will operate independently, but in collaboration with the District, as a non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors comprised of a member of District of Squamish Council as well as representatives from:

  • Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society;
  • Sea to Sky Community Services Society;
  • Squamish Helping Hands Society;
  • Squamish Senior Living Society;
  • Squamish Nation or Hiy̓ám̓ ta Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Housing Society;
  • A member of the public who occupies an affordable housing unit within the District of Squamish;
  • A member representing the private development sector, such as a real estate developer or residential builder;
  • Two members with expertise or experience in the housing or legal sector, such as a housing advocate, social worker or property manager.

In its first two years of operation, the Housing Society will focus on a hiring and organizational structure, establishing the Society as the ‘Face of Affordable Housing’ in Squamish, offering meaningful service to participating non-profits and identifying a potential new development. 

Perpetually Affordable Housing Policy

The Perpetually Affordable Housing (PAH) Policy was approved in March 2020. This policy provides the definition of what the District wants to see as affordable housing provided by developers in market housing developments as part of any Community Amenity Contribution package (the package of new amenities provided by a developer as part of a rezoning application, principally oriented towards affordable housing or new municipal facilities). The PAH Policy targets homes that are intended for households with a range between 80% and 120% of local median income, and provides rental rates for bachelor suites through to 3 bedroom homes. The minimum sizes required are the same as those required under BC Housing standards.

Homes provided under the PAH Policy are targeted more at low to moderate incomes, rather than requiring very low rental rates (or deep subsidy homes). This decision was made because those occupants of more affordable/deep subsidy homes often require programs and supports, options that the District does not have the staff or resources to provide. The District will continue to work with its’ non-profit partners in the community and BC Housing, who can provide the necessary supports, to provide these more affordable homes.

Related Staffing & Policy Improvements:

The District has undertaken the following in recent years to support the development of affordable housing:

  • Maintaining a fast-track approval process for up to five applicants at a time for projects that deliver 100% purpose rental buildings, 100% commercial buildings, or 100% affordable housing projects;
  • Provided two new staff to the Building Department in 2022, in addition to those added in 2021, to ensure that fast-tracked permits are processed and that other residential developments can be processed in a reasonable time;
  • Leveraging municipal tools such as the provision of land, rezoning and creating a variety of policies in order to support affordable housing;
  • Created a policy to restrict the redevelopment of rental housing to strata or other for-sale properties;
  • Neighbourhood planning processes within established neighbourhoods in order to increase housing diversity and attainability.

Resources: