The Hart Pioneer Centre received a $25,000 provincial grant Friday to conduct a feasibility study on developing seniors’ housing in the Hart.
The study will examine the possibility of building low-cost seniors’ housing on Northern Health’s land surrounding the Hart Pioneer Centre, first vice-president for the centre, Harold Iverson, said.
“We’d really like to see 25-30 units with room for expansion later,” Iverson said. “This is a major, major step forward.”
Iverson chairs the centre’s housing committee and has spearheaded the latest efforts to bring seniors’ housing to the Hart.
The seniors’ centre has been advocating for a seniors’ housing development in the area since 1989, he said. And there has been several false starts along the way.
A covenant on the Northern Health land prevents it from being sold or used for anything other than seniors’ housing, he said.
The more recent attempt to bring housing to the site was initiated after Northern Health approached the centre about 2.5 years ago to request removing the covenant.
The feasibility study will examine possible models to fund a seniors’ housing development, including public-private partnerships, Iverson said.
Current seniors’ housing is too expensive for some of the centre’s 400 members, Iverson said.
“They’re a proud generation, they don’t like to say they need help,” he said. “We’d really like to see it designed like Fraser Lake, where [the rent] is sent at one-third of their household income. The need here is so great for it.”
Prince George North MLA Pat Bell said he was excited to present the grant to the centre.
“The Hart Highway is a very unique area. People see it as a different community than downtown Prince George,” Bell said. “I think we’ve found the right model now. I’m confident we’re going to see housing up here.”
The feasibility study is expected to be complete later this year.