DeAnne Akachuk

DeAnne Akachuk

Vernon project provides a place to call home

The 10-unit Tanner Terrace townhouse complex was unveiled Thursday on Alexis Park Drive.

It’s warm and inviting, and it’s home.

The 10-unit Tanner Terrace townhouse complex was unveiled Thursday on Alexis Park Drive.

“Having an accessible house is great,” said Maurice Vandekerckhove, one of the tenants.

With Vandekerckhove in a wheelchair, the design of the building is important, including the height of counters and the width of doors.

Originally from Manitoba, Vandekerckhove remembers falling in love with the Okanagan during a visit as a youth.

“It took me 20 years to get back here and I will stay here permanently,” he said.

Tanner Terrace is for seniors and those with mobility issues, both native and non-native.

“We’re so pleased to be part of the housing solution,” said Karen Gerein, Vernon Native Housing Society general manager.

“Our tenants are so happy to be here.”

But Gerein admits there is more the society could be doing.

“There is a long waitlist. We could have filled the 10 units two or three times over,” she said.

With Tanner Terrace now open, the society has submitted a proposal to B.C. Housing for a 37-unit facility.

“There is a need for students, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, hence the studio apartments (included in the plan),” said Gerein.

Later Thursday, representatives from the Vernon Native Housing Society are taking part in an affordable housing forum hosted by Mel Arnold, North Okanagan-Shuswap MP.

“I want to find out what the local needs are,” said Arnold, adding that information from local services agencies will be passed on to the federal government.

“We need partnerships between the private sector, local government and the provincial and federal governments. It’s the way of the future.”

More than $2 million in federal and provincial funds went into Tanner Terrace, while the City of Vernon waived $51,000 in development fees. The native housing society provided land valued at $108,000 and equity of $25,000.

“Facilities like this don’t happen without partnerships,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

“We need to build more because the need is here.”

Mayor Akbal Mund says it’s important for the city to support groups like the Vernon Native Housing Society.

“We applaud its innovative approach to creating more affordable housing options that support some of our most vulnerable citizens,” he said.

Tanner Terrace, next to Trinity United Church, is named after Anna Mae and Leonard Tanner, who were instrumental in the founding of the society in the 1980s.

“I’m so pleased and honoured with what’s happening and more will continue,” said Anna Mae Tanner of the construction of affordable housing in Vernon.

“I’m overwhelmed.”