FORT ST. JOHN, B.C.- The City of Fort St. John is supporting a proposed 116-unit seniors’ apartment complex by waiving development charges.

Council recently approved a Development Cost Charges (DCC) waiver for $754,348 for the Harlequin at Prairie Rose Park development, subject to the completion of a housing agreement.

The charges levied support constructing or expanding services through the DCC, including expanding water, sewer, drainage, roads, and parks.

The proposed seniors’ complex by VRS Communities Society and Peace Holdings Inc., located just south of the Fort St. John Hospital and Peace Villa, will feature studio, one- and two-bedroom units designed for age-in-place, affordability and accessibility.

In a release, VRS development director Brad Tone said a “critical community partnership” is created through this decision by council to fund support of non-profit funding sources at CMHC and BC Housing.

“Project financing would not have been possible without the support of Fort St. John through means of a DCC Waiver,” said Tone.

“VRS Communities has an established position in the province and a strategic vision making possible the means to deliver services at an efficient cost to those requiring affordable and accessible housing.”

A development plan for the seniors housing was submitted to the city in February after a packed public hearing in 2019 and two years of consulting with local seniors.

“This is a significant investment that supports a non-profit housing society in addressing the tremendous need for affordable seniors housing units in our community,” stated Mayor Lori Ackerman.

“Council, through the Official Community Plan, the 2018 to 2023 Strategic Plan and the recently completed Housing Strategy, are committed to ensuring sufficient affordable housing opportunities through partnerships with other levels of government, community and non-profit housing organizations, and developers.”

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.

The housing will be made up of mixed-use, seniors housing, affordable housing, assisted living, and adult living. In addition, commercial facilities will be built for health services to serve the needs of the residents.

The development will also have a multipurpose clubhouse with a games room, a kitchen, a lounge, and a dining area. VRS is also proposing 118 parking stalls for the building.