Saturday, October 17, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, October 16, 2009

Stratification finds a location, still more talk than shelter for the homeless and selling off the school yard (and its building), some of the items of the news cycle for Friday.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
STRATA VERSUS RENTAL UNITS IN PRINCE RUPERT-- The process of turning rental properties into strata units in Prince Rupert gets a green light from city council, providing a few conditions are met (Daily News Archive Article )

The Mayor continues to voice support for a men's shelter to be built in Prince Rupert, but as always seems to be the case on this issue, there's more talk on the project than there is actual construction (Daily News Archive Article )

School District 52 is trying to find ways around provincial hesitations when it comes to the selling of surplus real estate in the city, the School District is hoping to be able to sell off the recently closed Seal Cove school, providing they can gain provincial agreement on the sale. (Daily News Archive Article )

The Sports section featured a preview and call for teams for the upcoming curling season as well as a profile on a couple of teams involved in volleyball for Charles Hays Secondary School this fall.

Daily News, front page headline story
Strata versus rental units in Prince Rupert
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Prince Rupert Daily News
Friday, October 16, 2009

Jennie Parks is feeling more secure knowing she won't be evicted from her apartment at Boulevard Estates on Drake Crescent.

Assurance came on Tuesday evening at City Hall Chambers after she learned that the intent of Macro Properties to stratify Boulevard Estates means the unit she's been renting will not go up for sale until she decides she no longer wants to live there.

And that was what Parks needed to hear. A day later she had nothing but praise for City Councillor Joy Thorkelson, crediting her because she had asked several questions of Macro Properties.

"She really cleared things up. I felt better because of her efforts," Parks said.

Parks told council she lives in an apartment on the ground floor and has her own entrance.

"I am almost 89. I have a little dog that's 15 with heart problems and arthritis. If we have to move, where do we go? I have a poverty-line income and I sold my house 20 years ago. I don't want to buy again and could probably only afford the back steps of a house," Parks said, adding that there are many like her in the community who want independence and to do their own cooking.

"The seniors apartments are for low income and for people with disabilities, but will there ever be a place for me?"

Macro Properties is also requesting permission to stratify Cedar Ridge Townhouses on 10th Avenue East.

In total 103 units would be made available under the strata title.

Imran Jivraj, Director of Property Management for Macro Properties, said it is not the company's strategy to displace anyone from the units. "We will only sell units as they become available and we would not at any time ask our tenants to relocate."

Thorkelson told him that was good to know and when it came time to approve a motion for Macro to pursue its request to stratify, Thorkelson insisted there be a policy stated by the company that it will not evict any tenants. Her motion was passed unanimously.

She also asked if it is the company's plan to stratify all of its town housing units and heard that at this time, the company is only looking at Boulevard Estates and Cedar Ridge.

Another question she had was - if the company stratifies its two complexes, are there going to be any other townhouses available for rent in Prince Rupert other than B.C. Housing?

Information on the local rental market, released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in Spring 2009, indicated there are a total of 631 private rental units in Prince Rupert.

Ninety-one of those are three-bedroom and at the time of the statistics there was one vacancy. For two-bedroom the total was 241, with 40 vacant and of 250 one-bedrooms, only 32 vacant.

Since the spring, however, at Cedar Ridge and Boulevard Estates alone, of the 79 townhouses, 20 are now vacant and of the 24 apartments, 9 are vacant.

Macro Properties first submitted an application for stratification in November 2007, but that was delayed due to slow progress on renovations, followed by a corporate decision to postpone the review process, and most recently allowing time for completion of the recently adopted Zoning Bylaw, City Planner Zeno Krekic told council.

"According to the BC Condominium Act, stratification of existing buildings requires the approval of Municipal Council to assure compliance to the applicable municipal bylaws, and to consider priorities of rental accommodation and privately owned housing in the area," Krekic reported.

A comparison to the city of Terrace, as indicated by CHMC tables, showed that the City has a total of 384 privately-owned rental units. Thirty-five of those are three-bedroom, 209 are two-bedroom and 111 are one-bedroom.

Jivraj said the company is in process, working with the City and Province on its application. It all depends on market conditions too, he admitted.

"If the market is down we won't sell, we're landlords also," he added.

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