30 March 2018
Media contact: David Fawcett
Atangard Community Project Society
Unit A – 33790 Essendene Ave
Abbotsford, BC, V2S 2H2
Atangard Community Project Facing Eviction – Redevelopment proposal would displace 22 residents from successful affordable co-housing project in downtown Abbotsford
After nearly 9 years in Historic Downtown Abbotsford, the Atangard Community Project could be losing its home. The affordable co-housing project is located in the old Fraser Valley Inn, which is pending demolition. Atangard has allowed an influential community of young adults to play a key role in the cultural and financial revitalization of the formerly stigmatized Historic Downtown Abbotsford.
In 2009, the original residents transformed the second floor of the infamous Fraser Valley Inn into a successful model for densification that includes 19 private rooms and an array of common spaces. Since it was established, Atangard has typically been operating with a double-digit waitlist of potential residents, emphasizing its value as an affordable housing option. It currently provides affordable co-housing for 22 students and young professionals between the ages of 19 and 35.
Atangard’s current location, the Fraser Valley Inn, is slated for redevelopment, which could potentially lead to demolition as soon as August, but more likely within the next 12 months (e.g. winter/spring 2019). This will remove a very successful affordable housing option in Abbotsford, eliminating 19 units and displacing 22 residents into a local rental market that already has a vacancy rate lower than 1%.
Ultimately, the presence of the Atangard in downtown Abbotsford has brought a youthful vigour to the neighbourhood, contributing to its revitalization. For example, in 2010, the project began operating the Jam in Jubilee Summer Concert Series (first established by the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association). Volunteers developed the festival into Abbotsford’s only major youth-oriented yet family friendly event, which since 2016 has existed under the umbrella of the Abbotsford Arts Council. The project has also helped attract a new wave of businesses to the area, supplying an influential segment of their staff and clientele.
David Fawcett is a resident and the current president of the board of directors, and after two and a half years at Atangard he says he is constantly reminded of the value of the project: “Creating and maintaining quality private affordable housing is important for us, of course, but there are other, ‘softer’ benefits to Atangard’s model that need to be recognized. Our emphasis on community and relationships makes us family, and creates a place of individual and communal growth, and even healing, that is unparalleled in my experience. Even hearing about the positive impacts that living here has on the mental health of many residents – it really is a beautiful thing to be a part of.”
Atangard is hoping they have enough time to find a new home. Residents aren’t despairing: “The response from the downtown community and sense of camaraderie amongst our housemates has been uplifting,” says Fawcett. “Ultimately we’re hoping to find support to carry on our vision and model. Our dream is to be involved in a mixed-used building in some manner, similar to our current location, and hopefully be able to eventually expand to provide affordable community housing for our current demographic as well as families and seniors.”
Images are available by request.