In 2012, a growing congregation of the Kootenay Christian Fellowship (KCF) purchased the old Savoy Lanes bowling alley sitting on a 1.3 acre property at the end of Falls Street in Nelson BC. The ideal location made it possible for the church to serve Nelson’s downtown community, as well as become the setting for a greater vision and personal dream of Pastor Jim Reimer: to be the site of an affordable housing complex for lower income working people.
In 2014, Pastor Jim met retired accountant Brad Howard on the City of Nelson’s Housing Committee where they discovered a shared passion for accessible housing and where the SHARE Housing Initiative seed started to grow.
By 2015, there was an idea, a plot of land and some committed individuals. Jim and Brad were joined by Mike McIndoe and architects of Cover Architectural, Rob Stacey and Graeme Leadbeater, to begin the business plan. The project was awarded $21,000 by Columbia Basin Trust to begin early exploration and hold a facilitated public information session.
On April 21, 2015, a meeting of the SHARE membership and public received a proper introduction and update of the project, receiving a sneak-peak of the building design. July 20, 2015 the team made their first request for local support to the City of Nelson Council (Committee of the Whole).
A few months later, the Innovative Housing Consulting Inc (IHCI) came on board – a development consultant to do the initial feasibility work, to present the project to the BC Housing Corporation for support; and advise on construction in the Kootenays. IHCI understood the Nelson scene having been instrumental in other local projects.
2016 was focused more and more on the affordable housing crisis across BC, the provincial government announced new funding available to projects of this nature, positioning the SHARE project well prepared to apply for funding; already having the feasibility studies and proper representation.
By June, the SHARE proposal was submitted to a BC Housing Corporation. SHARE worked with BC Housing, the City of Nelson, IHCI, and Cover Architectural to work through road bumps that are inevitable in any project like this. A new funding proposal was prepared resulting in BC Housing granting Preliminary Project Approval with significant preliminary project funding.
The SHARE Housing Initiative Society (SHI) was incorporated under the new BC Societies Act on January 17, 2018 and the first Board selected: Jim Reimer, Brad Howard, Mike McIndoe, Kelly Eckes, Brad Wilson and Trevor Miller.
The Nelson City Council approved the variance applications allowing to subdivide the KCF property. At this same time, BC Housing awarded more funds to move the SHI project forward and the Columbia Basin Trust came on board as a development partner.
At the beginning of 2019, construction was delayed by challenges centred around subdividing the difficult pie shaped lot with no street access. But creative thought, goodwill by the City Council, untiring efforts of city staff, strong support from private business and KCF, these issues were resolved. This is the true testament of all parties working together for the same goal: bringing more affordable housing to Nelson and responding to the needs of an often missed group of people – working singles and couples of a limited income.
Finally with smiles all around, a dream was realized – breaking ground on the SHARE Housing Initiative on May 29th 2020. Stay tuned… expected completion is September 2021.