An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S GOOD NEWS and maybe bad news in the City’s purchase of the Northbridge Hotel, formerly the Village and now commonly known as the Duchess for its bar.
The old hotel has seen better days. Once it was a going concern, a nice hotel with nice rooms, a nice coffee shop, a popular lounge and an even more popular beer hall. It was, in some ways, the hub of the North Shore.
But the years have not been kind. So the prospect of redeveloping the site is welcome. The City has paid $7.1 million for the property, including a lot behind the hotel. A handsome price but not an unreasonable one considering its prime location.
The plan is vague but involves market housing for the hotel and affordable housing on the empty lot. That’s where the potential bad news comes in. The intention is to involve BC Housing in ownership of the lot.
The City’s news release referred to “affordable housing supply” but the question is whether that actually means more social housing. BC Housing has a clear strategy of establishing social housing in inner city environments.
That makes sense, in one way. Those in need of housing and support naturally congregate in urban cores, partly because that’s where services are located. But as we’ve seen time after time, it makes problems worse.
And, it doesn’t have to be that way. The Victory Inn on Halston is an example of social housing that isn’t in the center of retail activity but is close to transportation and neighbourhood amenities. And it works fine.
Surely, the North Shore has done its share in providing social services and housing.
There’s no reason social housing can’t be distributed elsewhere in the city. Social housing is badly needed but it’s time for other parts of town to start shouldering more of that responsibility.
City Hall needs to keep that in mind when dealing with BC Housing.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.