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Affordable seniors’ housing opens in Cranbrook

Baker Gardens was officially opened Wednesday, thanks to partnerships and funding from the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, City of Cranbrook, Columbia Basin Trust and the CanadianMental Health Association - Kootenays. Baker Gardens was developed to provide affordable accommodations for seniors and people with disabilities in Cranbrook. L-R: Garry Merkel, board chair, Columbia Basin Trust, Mayor Scott Manjak, City of Cranbrook, Bill Bennett,MLA for Kootenay East, Kevin Weaver, Vice President, Canadian Mental Health Association - Kootenays, David Wilks, MP for Kootenay-Columbia. - Darcy Wiebe
Baker Gardens was officially opened Wednesday, thanks to partnerships and funding from the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, City of Cranbrook, Columbia Basin Trust and the CanadianMental Health Association - Kootenays. Baker Gardens was developed to provide affordable accommodations for seniors and people with disabilities in Cranbrook. L-R: Garry Merkel, board chair, Columbia Basin Trust, Mayor Scott Manjak, City of Cranbrook, Bill Bennett,MLA for Kootenay East, Kevin Weaver, Vice President, Canadian Mental Health Association - Kootenays, David Wilks, MP for Kootenay-Columbia.
— image credit: Darcy Wiebe

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The governments of Canada and British Columbia, along with community partners officially opened Baker Gardens Wednesday, a new 36-unit modular housing development for seniors and persons with disabilities in Cranbrook.

“I am delighted to see that construction is complete on this project,” said David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay - Columbia, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). “The opening of Baker Gardens brings more suitable, affordable accommodation to Cranbrook, allowing seniors and people with disabilities to remain in our community - one that they know and love.”

“Bringing safe, affordable housing to seniors here in Cranbrook is important to me as a community member and it is important to this government,” said Bill Bennett, MLA for Kootenay East. “Developments like this offer residents a comfortable home and they are a vital part of a vibrant and healthy community.”

Through an amendment to the Canada-British Columbia Affordable Housing Agreement, the federal government contributed approximately $2.7 million to support the construction of Bakers Gardens. The Province of British Columbia provided approximately $2.2 million to this project. The City of Cranbrook provided the land and waived development cost charges for this project. Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) also contributed to the overall capital costs of this site.

“Addressing the need for more affordable housing for seniors in Cranbrook is a key priority for our City and council,” said Mayor Scott Manjak, City of Cranbrook. “That is why we are proud to contribute and partner with all  involved in this project, making the opening of Baker Gardens a reality, benefiting our community as a whole.”

CBT has committed $425,000 to the overall capital costs of seven sites in the Columbia Basin region for a total of 114 units under the SRH initiative, including Baker Gardens. Other SRH projects in development with CBT commitment include Baynes Lake, Creston, Golden, Kimberley, two sites in Revelstoke and Valemount.

“Columbia Basin Trust is committed to supporting initiatives that result in increasing affordable housing options for basin residents,” said Garry Merkel, Columbia Basin Trust board chair. “We are pleased to be involved in this partnership, with all levels of government and various community partners, to increase the number of seniors’ housing units both here in Cranbrook and in six other communities across the basin.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association - Kootenays (CMHA) will manage and operate Baker Gardens. CMHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and promoting mental health through the provision of services, programming advocacy and public education.

“We believe that safe, affordable housing is one of the key components to maintaining good mental health,” said Janice Ivan, executive director Canadian Mental Health Association - Kootenays. “With the opening of Baker Gardens, our resident seniors now have access to more housing options in the community they know and love, so that they can continue with their independence and maintain an active healthy lifestyle.”

The Seniors’ Rental Housing initiative is a result of a $365-million joint investment under an amendment to the Canada-British Columbia Affordable Housing Agreement, which includes funding through Canada’s Economic Action Plan and by the Government of British Columbia. This initiative, first announced by the two levels of government on April 8, 2009, will provide $123.5 million, including $104 million for seniors and $19.5 million for persons with disabilities, to develop approximately 1,300 new affordable rental housing units, which will help to stimulate local economies in smaller communities across B.C. Under terms of the agreement, the provincial and federal governments are providing matching contributions of $61.79 million.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan built on the Government of Canada’s commitment in 2008 of more than $1.9 billion, over five years, to improve and build new affordable housing and help the homeless. It provided $475 million, over two years, to build new rental housing for low-income seniors. Overall, the Economic Action Plan included $2 billion for the construction of new and the renovation of existing social housing, plus $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure.

A new agreement signed recently by both orders of government implements B.C.’s allocation of the remaining three years of the $1.9 billion, which amounts to a further $90 million in federal funding for British Columbians in housing need. The Province will contribute another $90 million in matching funds, for a combined investment of $180 million, to support housing programs and services that help B.C. residents access safe, affordable housing.

The Province of British Columbia $14-billion capital infrastructure program is creating up to 88,000 jobs, building vital public infrastructure and stimulating local economies across the province.

To find out more about how the Government of Canada and CMHC are working to build stronger homes and communities for all Canadians, call CMHC at 1-800- 668-2642 or visit: www.cmhc.ca/housingactionplan

For more information on this and other measures in Canada’s Economic Action Plan, visit: www.actionplan.gc.ca

To find out more, visit: www.bchousing.org

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