Heads turned last week as construction crews delivered and started installing the modules that will make up a two-storey, 19-unit apartment building on 2nd Avenue in Queen Charlotte. Owned by BC Housing and managed by the Queen Charlotte Housing Society, the building will offer subsidized rents and 24-hour support to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer) Original modular housing units at Queen Charlotte City, seen here when first being assembled, could not be salvaged after mold and moisture was discovered. New ones are now replacing them. (File photo)

Failed housing project settlement reached

And new units at Queen Charlotte City now being assembled

The provincial government has reached a monetary settlement after a failed first attempt to provide housing at Queen Charlotte City.

The settlement, worth $2.5 million, was reached with housing contractor Atco Sustainable Communities and insurers, after mold and moisture damage to 19 modular housing units was such that they could not be repaired.

Atco was first contracted by BC Housing in 2018 at a cost of $5.7 million to provide and assemble the units at 135 Oceanview Drive in Queen Charlotte City in response to an acknowledged housing crisis.

But as the units were being assembled on the provincially-owned property at 135 Oceanview Drive last year, mold and water damage was discovered, leading Atco to halt the Kal Naay/Alder Housing project and bring in a team of experts.

When it was determined the units could not be repaired, BC Housing then made the decision to junk the units and find a new contractor for a renewed attempt.

Horizon North Construction was then selected, at a cost of $8.7 million, to provide the same number of units, 19, at the same location.

“The contractor is currently onsite and the project is expected to be completed in December 2020,” the provincial housing ministry said in a statement.

“Construction was briefly paused in early summer due to travel restrictions during the pandemic, which lead to the slightly-delayed completion date for the project.”

Horizon North has been dismantling the original units, the cost of which has been factored into its contract.

But some of the losses connected to the first project are expected to be recovered.

“The Village of Queen Charlotte and some private citizens have expressed an interest in purchasing some of the older units with the intent of salvaging them,” the ministry continued. “BC Housing is in the process of negotiating the sale and will have more details in the coming weeks.”

The Queen Charlotte City project is one of many announced in the past several years by the province and in this area, supportive housing developments in Prince Rupert and in Terrace have already opened.

Each of the units in those cities, as is expected in Queen Charlotte City, has its own kitchen and bathroom in addition to laundry facilities and a shared common space.

The Queen Charlotte Heritage Housing Society has been contracted to run the facility, offering meals, life skills and culturally appropriate programming as well as having workers available around the clock.

In the meantime, four expected future tenants of the project are being provided housing by the housing society. It receives an annual subsidy of $40,000 from BC Housing.

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