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Invermere and Radium earmarks funds for local housing society

The District of Invermere and the Village of Radium Hot Springs have both provided funding to the Columbia Valley Housing Society.

Invermere devoted $25,000 to top up the Regional District of East Kootenay’s operating grant.

“The District of Invermere Council strongly supports the work and efforts of the CVHS to provide affordable housing units for Columbia Valley residents. Invermere Council was disappointed that the RDEK Board did not agree to provide the CVHS with their full request for financial support in the Region’s 2024 Budget,” said Invermere Mayor Al Miller.

“In order to ensure the CVHS is able to continue its important work, the District of Invermere and the Village of Radium Hot Springs are offsetting the funding gap left by the RDEK.”

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Meanwhile, Radium is giving $10,000 as a discretionary grant-in-aid for the housing society’s work in the community.

“We really look forward to growing this organization,” said Radium Mayor Mike Gray. “We see a lot of value in the Columbia Valley Housing Society, not only for us but also how it benefits the valley as a whole.”

The CVHC was established in June 2022, and Gray said they have already proved their worth.

“The CVHS has done so much in that short amount of time. They have already confirmed two projects and several others they’re working on and looking at,” said Gray.

The long-term goal is to establish the CVHS as a self-sustaining entity.

“We hope that as we’re setting up these projects, those projects themselves provide funding for the organization,” explained Gray.

“Our hope is that we’re providing some short-term funding to get them going and established, then they can use the proceeds from the projects they’re working to create more and become an independent organization.”

While housing shortages are not unique to the Columbia Valley, Gray said the impacts are felt differently.

“When you’re in a small community, I think it can really easy to dust your hands off the housing problem because the unhoused people end up moving to larger centres,” said Gray.

“We see that Cranbrook is having a huge influx of people who are hit by the housing crisis. We think it’s our responsibility to help out with that.”

Gray said a growing population will also help stimulate and grow the local economy.

“The more housing we have available, the more people we have available for our workforce,” said Gray.

“We’ve seen trends of reduced hours and staff for some organizations. Hopefully, as we get a better handle on housing we’ll get a better handle on those other issues as well.”

Property owners can help ease pressure on housing supply as well.

“We are doing everything we can, but it’s also up to community members. Businesses need to step up to find housing wherever they can,” said Gray.

“Individuals who have rooms for rent, or are looking for roommates, or if they have a suite they can rent out – wherever possible, they need to look at making that a thing that benefits the community as well as themselves.”

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