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Ground broken at seniors project

The supply of affordable housing for seniors got a boost Wednesday when the city, Richmond Kiwanis Club, and developer Polygon Homes officially broke ground on a pair of highrise buildings across from Richmond Centre mall.

The supply of affordable housing for seniors got a boost Wednesday when the city, Richmond Kiwanis Club, and developer Polygon Homes officially broke ground on a pair of highrise buildings across from Richmond Centre mall.

But one local senior believes more needs to be done to house a coming wave of elderly residents.

When completed, the $60 million project called Kiwanis Towers, will feature 296 rental apartments. That more than doubles the number of units originally on the site that was owned and run by the Richmond Kiwanis Senior Citizens Housing Society since 1961.

In a deal with developer Polygon Homes the Kiwanis group sold the five-acre property in return for constructing a pair of 15-storey buildings that front on Minoru Blvd. Polygon is developing three other towers on the remainder of the land as part of its Carrera high-end condo which features views of Minoru Park.

Shirley Parker, president of the Minoru Seniors Centre, and a former resident of Kiwanis Court, said despite the new development many local seniors will be left on lengthy waiting lists to find a home.

"And this place is not expected to be ready until 2015, so what are seniors going to be doing until then," Parker said. Funding for the Kiwanis Towers portion of the project comes from a variety of sources.

The largest contribution is from the city at $20.8 million over five years. The money will come from Richmond's Affordable Housing Reserve. An additional $3.3 million will also be provided to pay for development cost charges, service cost charges, and municipal permit fees.

Richmond Kiwanis Senior Citizens Housing Society is using $21 million in proceeds from the sale of the land to the developer for the adjacent construction of market-priced housing.

The province is providing $19.7 million in construction financing. Coun. Bill McNulty, standing in for Mayor Malcolm Brodie, called the ground breaking event a great day for Richmond affordable housing in the city.

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