Construction of the new Birch replacement building for low-income seniors could begin this summer, said the executive director of the Langley Lions Housing Society (file)

Construction of the new Birch replacement building for low-income seniors could begin this summer, said the executive director of the Langley Lions Housing Society (file)

Long-planned Langley City seniors rental building could begin construction this summer

‘It’s been an awfully long wait’

A long-planned replacement for the Birch seniors residence operated by the Langley Lions Housing Society could begin construction this summer, said Jeanette Dagenais, society executive director.

“I’m excited,” Dagenais told the Langley Advance Times.

“It’s been an awfully long wait.”

The new Langley City facility near 203rd Street and 54th Avenue will replace the seniors residence that was torn down following a fire in 2017 that claimed one life and caused extensive structural damage.

READ MORE: Agreement on seniors rental building a first for Langley City

On Monday, March 8, City Council voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to a historic agreement that would preserve the new building for affordable seniors housing.

Final approval to the agreement is expected before the end of the month.

Once that happens, the project will go to tender, with actual construction beginning by the summer if all goes well, Dagenais anticipates.

With the City, Society and B.C. Housing all involved in the project, and the need to hold all meeting by videoconference during the pandemic, “the process has gone on longer than we hoped,” remarked Dagenais.

READ MORE: Crews demolishing fire-damaged Birch building

The 110-unit seniors housing project in Langley City will be operated under an agreement between the City and Society that would require 80 per cent of the suites in the eight-storey building to be occupied by tenants 55 and older.

All must be rental units, with 30 per cent set aside for “moderate income” renters who can pay affordable market rents, while 50 per cent charge rent based on a percentage of income and 20 per cent will be for tenants who require low income subsidies.

The first such agreement in the history of the City of Langley, it will remain even if ownership of the building changes and cannot be removed or amended without the agreement of the City.

“It’s the focus on keeping aff0rdable housing in the community,” Dagenais explained.

Once the new Birch replacement is open, plans call for the transfer of residents from one of the aging buildings that is next in line for replacement.

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