By Steve Hubrecht 

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The Columbia Valley Metis Association (CVMA) and Metis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) have changed their affordable housing/cultural centre development proposal in Invermere.

The project is one of the biggest efforts ever in Invermere to create affordable housing. It quickly became the hot button issue in town when the proposal first became public in late March. The initial plan called for a four-storey, 36-unit affordable housing building and a 3,000-square foot (280-square metre) CVMA cultural centre office to be built on 13th Street.

A public hearing on the development in early April drew more than 150 people — an enormous turnout by Invermere standards. Many people at the hearing were staunchly against the project and many others were staunchly in favour of it. Opponents cited the project’s four-storey height, and said a development of that size along with a cultural centre just didn’t fit in a neighbourhood of mostly single family residential homes and single storey townhouses. Supporters cited the urgent need for any sort of affordable housing — but particularly of long-term rentals – in Invermere.

The CVMA and MNBC submitted a radically revised proposal to Invermere council last week. In the new plans, the fourth storey has been chopped off the affordable housing component, the building has been reconfigured into an ‘L’ shape, the cultural centre has been removed, and four extra units of affordable housing have been added.

“We took the feedback from the community and tried to adjust things as much as possible, in a way that is a win-win for everyone,” CVMA president Topher Burke told the Pioneer.

Burke said that councillors seemed supportive of the changes.

“Hopefully this will help. There’s still a lot more process and red tape to go. We’ll work through the process and see where we get,” said Burke.

Invermere chief administrative officer Andrew Young explained that council has accepted the new application, but not approved it, and that a new public consultation process will begin.

Mayor Al Miller said he is certainly happy to see that they (project proponents) listened. 

“The height and community cultural centre were, I think, the two biggest issues that were brought up by the public. “It is very much worthwhile to direct it back through the (public consultation) process.”

A bird’s eye view of the revised plan.