Dianne St. Jean

Just on the heels of the good news that Valemount College has been granted accreditation by the province to provide programming, Valemount Affordable Rentals Society (VARS) has also begun the process of renovating rental units for those future students of the college.

VARS was formed to find a solution to the shortage of affordable rental housing in Valemount. Now, in light of expectation of the college planning to begin operating as early as next spring, students will be looking for short-term rentals.

VARS Board Member Korie Marshall showing some of the renovation work that’s begun at the 8-unit building that will supply student housing.
VARS Board Member Korie Marshall showing some of the renovation work that’s begun at the 8-unit building that will supply student housing.
Dianne St. Jean PHOTO

Earlier this year, the society purchased the former Ramakada Motel, which includes an 8-unit building, garage and separate residence on four lots.

In April they began the process of rezoning the property, part of which included amalgamating two of the four lots.

In August the Board renamed the property Juniper Square.

Serious water damage was discovered behind some of the shower stalls in the units, elevating renovation costs. In response to requests for support, Valemount Community Forest Corp. donated $5000 to help cover those costs. The group also received $1000 from BC Hydro.

The site was visited in August by two BC Housing representatives who gave very positive feedback. The society was encouraged to apply for additional funding to help with cost overruns, new windows, and necessary renovations for the house.

In October, VARS received additional grants from BC Housing and CBT for house renovations and an additional grant from BC Housing for new windows in the 8-unit building.

The group also submitted a proposal under BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund for Phase II of the housing project, which includes plans for a brand new 13-unit building on the property next to the 8-unit building. 

That unit will be dedicated to affordable housing for seniors and small families. If approved, their plan is to include three one-bedroom units for seniors, ten two-bedroom units for small families and some amenity space.

The group is hoping to have the eight units ready by the beginning of December and to make them available for rent for fixed-terms until they are needed for student housing.