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Chilliwack’s long-awaited Paramount housing revealed at ribbon-cutting ceremony

Emotions evident as long-awaited affordable housing for seniors and youth celebrated

When Alexandria Mui, 19, spoke to the crowd at the ribbon cutting for the Paramount downtown Chilliwack Tuesday, she admitted to being nervous.

In return, the crowd urged her on with a warm round of applause and drumming. Among them were Premier David Eby, local MLAs Dan Coulter and Kelli Paddon, Mayor Ken Popove and many of the very people who brought the affordable housing project into being.

Mui was chosen to speak as she is one of the first tenants of the Paramount. She did so just briefly, but her words brought tears to some eyes in the room.

Dignitaries cheer as tenant Alexandria Mui, 19, cuts the ribbon marking the official opening for The Paramount, a six-storey, low-income housing project on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

“This is going to help me be able to go to school in September, and I’m really excited about that,” she said. “I’m really thankful for the Paramount building and the opportunity it’s giving me to build an amazing life for myself. Thank you to everyone. Thank you.”

She shook hands with the dignitaries and thanked them again, shortly before the crowd broke for the first official tours of the long-awaited, urgently needed housing.

While Mui will live in one of the eight studio apartments designated for people ages 19 to 25, the six-storey building will mostly house seniors on fixed incomes. There are 58 units available for seniors.

It was built where its previous namesake theatre had been, at 46187 Yale Rd. The units for young adults are second-floor studio apartments without patios, with a shared laundry room. They are incorporated into the two floors of office space that will soon house Chilliwack Community Services, the main driver of the housing project going back more than seven years.

The Paramount is a partnership between the province, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the City of Chilliwack and Chilliwack Community Services, which will operate the building.

The apartments of the top four floors are roomier, with patios that offer sweeping views of Mt. Cheam, District 1881, and Agassiz’s Mount Woodside to the north. Rents range from $445 for the studio apartments to $1,500 for a two-bedroom unit. Priority will be given to young adults who were formerly in care, and seniors with low to moderate incomes.

From left: Kate Healey, executive director with Chilliwack Community Services, Chilliwack MLA Dan Coulter, and B.C. Premier David Eby talk on the patio of a third-floor apartment in The Paramount during the official opening for the six-storey, low-income housing project on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Thirteen of the units are wheelchair accessible, and there is a common space for residents to use that includes a large outdoor patio.

They’ve also incorporated some street-facing commercial units on Yale Road.

Speakers mentioned the long road to get the project finished, as well as the unique combination of seniors and youth in one building, and the incorporation of office and commercial space into a housing project. But mostly, they spoke about the dire need of housing right now, in Chilliwack and the rest of the province.

“Affordable housing is a need in every community, and we are glad to join the federal and provincial governments and Chilliwack Community Services adding 66 units to our community for seniors and young adults,” Popove said. “Seniors are the fastest-growing age group in Chilliwack … so we are pleased to see the Paramount building complete and ready to address a critical need in our community.”

Eby noted that the province needs to build more housing for middle-income earners, which is something that happened more commonly before the 1990s, such as co-op housing and homes for soldiers returning from active duty.

“We need to make sure Chilliwack stays a place where young people can put down roots and seniors on fixed incomes can live comfortably,” Eby said. “That’s why our government is supporting unique housing solutions like the Paramount. This affordable intergenerational housing complex for young adults who were formerly youth in care and seniors is the first of its kind in British Columbia and will provide residents with community, support and belonging.”

Here are some of the financial details provided by a provincial press release: The province, through BC Housing, provided approximately $105,500 toward construction of the project through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund and will provide approximately $390,000 in annual operating funding.

There was also $7 million in joint funding from the federal government, through CMHC, and the province through Canada Community Housing Initiative and BC Priorities Housing Initiative.

The City of Chilliwack provided the land valued at $1.4 million and approximately $1 million in waived fees and development costs, while Chilliwack Community Services contributed equity of approximately $3.5 million.

Luke Zacharias, president of the board of directors for Chilliwack Community Services, was visibly moved by the realization of the project moving into the operational stage.

“This moment marks the realization of a long-term plan to enhance the services provided by Chilliwack Community Services,” he said. “We are honoured to have played a role in bringing this project to fruition as it represents our unwavering commitment to providing safe and affordable housing for seniors and young adults in our community. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many people who contributed to making this vision a reality.”

Community Services moves into the building on April 15, and a community-wide open house is being planned for June 25.

Luke Zacharias, president of the board of directors for Chilliwack Community Services, speaks during the official opening ceremony for The Paramount, a six-storey, low-income housing project on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

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Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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