Community Futures Revelstoke floats 60–100-unit employee housing concept

Revelstoke business owners will meet later this week to discuss the possibility of creating a 60–100-unit affordable housing project that will be funded by local businesses and provide accommodation to their employees.

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File photo: Revelstoke's Bridge Creek affordable housing project added 12 units to the market. Photo: Aaron Orlando

Community Futures Revelstoke is exploring the possibility of building a 60–100-unit employee housing complex in Revelstoke to deal with the staff housing shortage that is hobbling some local businesses.

Community Futures Revelstoke General Manager Kevin Dorrius said the concept was hatched after he heard again and again from businesses that they can’t get employees to work for them because their new hires simply can’t find anywhere to live.

Dorrius said he’s heard of a dozen instances of local businesses buying up houses in Revelstoke in the past year so they have somewhere for their employees to live. He said that now includes smaller businesses like restaurants and retailers.

“So many businesses were coming to me about staff housing,” Dorrius told the Mountaineer in an interview. “The fact that we have local businesses actually buying houses which is showing me how big a problem it is here.”

Community Futures is holding a stakeholder meeting on Nov. 9 at 5 p.m. at the Revelstoke Business Information Centre, and they encourage any interested businesses to attend.

“This meeting is to gauge how much interest there is,” Dorrius said.

The potential project is in its early stages, and the exact model is still being discussed. Dorrius said the basic idea is to build entry-level housing, perhaps even dorm-style housing. Businesses would invest into the project and benefit by being able to offer their employees a place to live.

Dorrius said a lot of the details are still to be worked out in consultation with local stakeholders. Some possibilities to explore include:

  • locating the project at Bridge Creek, which is owned by the City of Revelstoke and earmarked for affordable housing
  • using a formula to cap the value of the properties so it would remain as employee housing, and not be market-based
  • seeking grants or funding from funding agencies
  • creating a legal structure best suited to manage the project
  • including different sizes of units to accommodate different family needs
  • operating the project on a cost-neutral basis

Dorrius said the project could be a significant construction project — for example, at $100,000 per unit at 100 units, it would be a $10-million project.

“Essentially what we need to do is add to the housing stock and our most critical need is [entry level] housing,” Dorrius said.

If you can’t make the meeting, Dorrius encouraged interested businesses to contact him at kdorrius@revelstokecf.com.

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