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Harmony project moving forward – Tennant

UNITI CEO reports progress to White Rock council
Rendering of the Harmony apartment project planned for the 15100-block of 20 Avenue. (Contributed graphic)

UNITI CEO Doug Tennant had some good news to share about the Harmony Apartments project in South Surrey at White Rock council’s Feb. 26 meeting.

“This last week we were given final project approval by BC Housing, and Surrey has also given us fourth reading – so we are pretty much good to go,” Tennant told council.

“We also are going to be running a campaign to support Harmony – right now, it’s in the quiet phase,” he added, noting that the six-storey rental project, planned for the 15100-block of 20 Avenue, is scheduled for completion in three years.

The project is planned to provide a total of 91 affordable units – including 74 new units and 17 replacement units with rents at 10 per cent below market. Among these are 14 accessible units and two universal units, designed to offer flexibility for residents with mobility challenges.

The building will be aimed at a broad demographic including seniors, families, essential workers, first responders, teachers and people with disabilities who want to live close to their work and amenities.

“We had a really good meeting last week with some of the leaders of that fundraising campaign,” Tennant said adding that the Surrey Firefighters Associations recent pledge of $100,000 already raised the profile for the project.

UNITI completed Chorus Apartments in 2016 – “the first purpose-built rental apartment in Surrey in over three decades, at that time,” Tennant said.

He noted it features 71 affordable rental homes of which, 20 are for residents with developmental disabilities.

Tennant also discussed how the UNITI ‘brand’ has come to represent the activities of the Semiahmoo House Society, Peninsula Estates Housing Society and the Semiahmoo Foundation – three organizations, he said, that “work together to help build inclusive communities.”

“We have changed who we are, over the last few years,” he said.

“One of the reasons we decided, a few years ago, to go to UNITI, is that we realized that Semiahmoo House Society and the Semiahmoo Foundation were names that we really hadn’t had conversations with the First Nation here, around and about.”

He said UNITI is pleased that SFN recently created a new housing society.

“It reinforces the idea that we need to be known as UNITI as well, and we’ve had good discussions with Semiahmoo First Nation about this.”

He pointed out that the 67 year-old Semiahmoo House Society’s mission is that “people with disabilities will live self-directed lives in the community”, while Peninsula Estates builds, runs and owns affordable and inclusive housing, and the Semiahmoo Foundation exists to support the other two organizations.

“When we talk about supporting people with disabilities, we do that through community services, through employment supports, through recreation and leisure,” he said.

“Just if you think about the lives that any person in our community should have, we will support people with disabilities to have the same lives – and lives of their choosing, not lives that we lay out for them. We’re very non-custodial in the way that we do our services and our support; always going back to the mantra ‘nothing about us, without us.’”

Tennant also gave credit to partner organization Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo – ” a great organization that has done a lot of good in this community, bringing beach wheelchairs to the waterfront.”

“We definitely support the work they do, and we also believe that, as a community, we need to get together to make sure that people with disabilities, seniors, any other disparate group, needs to have the support of the whole community in order to move forward.”

About the Author: Alex Browne

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