After sitting empty for nearly two decades, an empty field between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Morton and Maitland streets is the site of two proposed developments. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Low energy housing pitched for Port Alberni

Proposed development would be right beside new shelter

A new, low energy housing development has been proposed for a plot of land along Maitland Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues. The land is part of the same field where the new Port Alberni Shelter and supportive housing are planned.

The Maitland Family Housing Development is a proposal by the Alberni Low Energy Housing Society in partnership with the Roman Catholic Diocese, which owns the plot of land—about one-third of the field that has been empty for a couple of decades, ever since the former West Coast General Hospital was torn down.

The housing proposal is in the preliminary planning stage, says society chair Bonnie Ruttan, who along with her husband Mike handed out flyers about the development to neighbouring homes last week.

“It will be multi-housing. The majority of units will be designed for families,” she said. “There will also be smaller units that will be suitable for seniors. Our goal is to have a mix of affordable housing and market housing.”

A public meeting on the housing proposal has been scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 12 at Echo Centre. There is also a website at

Architectural drawings and other information will be available for those looking for more information, Ruttan said.

“We’re inviting neighbours to join us to discuss the project, provide feedback.”

The low energy housing society and the Roman Catholic diocese have been in talks since January about the housing proposal. “It was their wish to provide some benefit to the community through the use of their land,” Ruttan said.

“Our focus on families reflects the statistics, the number of children who live in low-income families. That number is reducing but it’s still quite significant.”

The mandate of the society has always been to provide low energy, efficient housing for people in the Alberni Valley.

“Our goal is net zero,” Ruttan said: “High energy efficiency which reduces the operating costs and results in a more comfortable environment for people to live in.”

This is the second housing development for the Alberni Low Energy Housing Society, which incorporated in 2010. They also have an apartment on 14th Avenue that was renovated and upgraded last fall.

Ruttan said the location of the proposed Maitland housing development is ideal because it is centrally located: within walking distance of two schools, a grocery store, medical facilities, the library and transit. They are looking at providing three-bedroom family units, but “the specifics of those are still in the works,” she explained.

“We want to be able to accommodate families comfortably.”

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