FORT ST. JOHN, B.C – A milestone has been attained for new seniors housing in Fort St. John as a development plan has been submitted to the City.

Peace Enterprises has partnered with Vancouver-based non-profit VRS Communities’, the owner/operator of the 116 unit housing, called Harlequin at Prairie Rose Park. The submission of the development application comes after a packed public hearing in 2019 and two years of consulting with local seniors.

“I really feel for the local seniors. I don’t know how to put it, they’ve almost been forgotten or overlooked, and needed to be attended to. So it’s a great relief for me to know that we’re making progress now and really moving on to the next step,” says Peace Holdings Inc. Director of Development Ron Brar.

In a study conducted by Northern B.C. Housing, Fort St. John’s population is expected to grow by 46 per cent by 2036, with the senior population, 65 plus, expected to grow by 172 per cent.

Development costs are around $30 million, and VRS Communities’ has submitted a funding application to BC Housing and Canada Mortgage and Housing Funding Programs.

Brar says the collaboration between federal, provincial and municipal governments makes the housing affordable and available to residents in the area.

“If I was to say, I’m a private developer, and I’m going to do this, it’s impossible, you really need to have collaboration from all these government sources to do this project, so it is all-inclusive for all residents.”

The next step will see the City’s engineering and planning department review the application and make necessary comments before development begins. The City received the application on February 5th and has a turnaround time of 120 days for development permits.

The hope is for the project to break ground this summer as Brar expects the City to speed up the decision-making process due to the seniors’ housing needs.

The development, next to the hospital, will feature a mix of unit types such as studio, one and two-bedroom units. The housing will be made up of mixed-use, seniors housing, affordable housing, assisted living, and adult living. Commercial facilities will be built for health services to serve the needs of the residents.

The subdivision will also have a multipurpose clubhouse with a games room, a kitchen, a lounge, and a dining area.

“The plan intent is it’s not just for the residents of the building, but for seniors and community members of Fort St. John to use and frequent.”

VRS Communities owns 14 senior housing developments throughout BC and one in Alberta.

**Correction – An earlier version of the article said Council would review the building application.  The City’s Engineering Department will review the permit.