Extension requested for closing date on Whitehorse affordable housing complex

Challenge Disability Resource Group waiting on $7M from Yukon government before breaking ground

A commitment from the Yukon Government is all that’s needed to move ahead with a new affordable housing development at 704 Main Street in Whitehorse.

At a standing committees meeting Jan. 9, Jillian Hardie, executive director of Challenge Disability Resource Group (CDRG), asked council for a 60-day extension on the closing date of a land sale agreement between CDRG and the City of Whitehorse.

The agreement was made in March 2017, with an original closing date of July 28, 2017. Earlier in July, however, the closing date was extended to Jan 24.

If the extension is granted, the closing date will be March 26.

Hardie told council CDRG is currently waiting on YG to agree to a one-time request of $7 million toward the $17.8-million project.

Hardie stressed the need for Cornerstone and presented a breakdown of how it aligns with the city’s strategic plan with regards to affordable housing.

The Cornerstone building features seven penthouse condo units and 42 affordable housing units (the 42 units have a monthly rent of $950, all-inclusive).

It also provides office space for CDRG employment services, as well as Twisted Wood Works and Bridges catering. There’s additional space for another non-governmental organization, though that organization has not yet been confirmed.

Hardie said those in need of apartments include Yukoners working for minimum wage in fast food restaurants and big box stores. She cited one client who’s living in an unregulated Whitehorse apartment where the window was kicked in earlier this winter.

In an unregulated unit, he has no recourse, Hardie told council.

“Can you imagine it snowing inside your apartment and trying to get up for work the next day?” she asked.

Hardie said that if council approves the extension, next steps include working on a tender package. The hope is to break ground on Main Street in May or June of 2018, with occupancy in late September to early October of 2019.

During the meeting, Mayor Dan Curtis said council is “a fan of (CDRG’s) work.”

The day after the meeting, Hardie told the News she’s confident funding will come through.

She said a broad band of Yukoners, many of whom are currently homeless, in shelters, or couch-surfing, have already asked about being waitlisted for units in the building even though CDRG hasn’t advertised yet.

“There appears to be a lot of support in the community, and certainly the city has shown that support,” she said, referencing council’s July decision to amend the city’s land disposition policy so CDRG could extend the closing date without risk of the organization losing half of its deposit.

The amendment also included a provision allowing the holder of a sale agreement (in this case, CDRG) to request an additional 60-day extension if the proposal supports priorities in the city’s strategic plan.

The administrative recommendation during the standing issues meeting was to grant that extension, pushing the closing date to March 26.

The issue will be brought forward at the Jan. 15 council meeting.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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