Community members and government representatives had a chance to tour Port Alberni’s newest apartment building during the grand opening of Maitland Street Village on Dec. 15, 2021.
Workers are putting the finishing touches on landscaping, and the building is waiting on the arrival of some appliances, but otherwise the new, low energy apartments are ready for tenants.
Maitland Street Village is a project of the Alberni Low Energy Housing Society and society chair Mike Ruttan said the building is the first apartment in B.C. to be built to Step 4 in the new B.C. Building Code. Two weeks before the grand opening, builders conducted a “blower door test” to determine how much air is entering or escaping from the building. The building was more than 80 percent below the threshhold, said Ruttan, meaning utility costs for tenants should be very low.
The Alberni Low Energy Housing Society has been working on the building for almost five years, from conception to construction. The land for the apartment was provided by the Roman Catholic Diocese, as it was formerly the site of Smith Memorial School—the Alberni Valley’s first Catholic school.
Bishop Gary Gordon, representing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria, attended the grand opening on Wednesday.
“It’s cold outside, but there is warmth in the hearts of the people who have put work into this place,” said Gordon. “It feels like Christmas today. It’s a big gift. And like all big gifts, it’s going to be giving to the community for years to come.”
The other special guest on Wednesday was Al Ross, hereditary chief of Hupacasath First Nation. Ross said he was proud to see progress that is being made to provide housing in the Alberni Valley.
Although some of the rentals are affordable, Ruttan said the rental rates range from “very low” to market rentals and are made for low to moderate income earners. The majority of the 46 units are three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments intended for families. Thanks to a grant from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 11 of the units are also fully accessible for wheelchair users.
Each floor has shared laundry facilities. There are also community gardens and landscaping that “reflects the natural environment,” said Ruttan. The apartment is not pet-friendly, but there is a safe, fenced area for children to play.
“We are building a community,” said Ruttan. “All the aspects that you need for a community are in this building.”
Ruttan said they are hoping to start moving people in by the end of December.
“We want to get people in here and settled,” he said.
The building will be managed by TPM Properties, based out of Victoria. The property management company already manages a pair of properties in Port Alberni: Roger Park Terrace and Helen Street Apartments.