Aboriginal Housing Society of Prince George (AHPSG) offices are located at 1919 17th Avenue, which provides a hall and program spaces. The vision is to further develop this site to create an Urban Aboriginal Community. A conceptual site master plan has been created that is intended to guide development, starting with Phase 1, which is currently in the design development stages.
Phase 1A: Townhomes | Phase 1B: Childcare Facility and Community Centre Conversion of Existing
Phase 2: Multi-Family Housing | Phase 3 (Preliminary Planning): Mixed-Use Housing
The vision for this project is to provide a family-focused community to support urban Indigenous peoples in Prince George, which offers safe and affordable housing with on-site access to educational, childcare, health and wellness, recreational, and cultural opportunities. Through a participatory process, we have developed a master plan for the site that proposes multiple phases of housing developments, as well as, supportive social community amenities and large green spaces.
A key component of this design is a large Outdoor Gathering Space that will be located at the very heart of the site, providing safe play areas for children and promoting community-building among tenants and supporting multi-generational connectedness through cultural exchange, gardening, and recreation. The concept of Community is to offer families, youth, and seniors/Elders living in the complex, as well as, the surrounding neighborhoods, with opportunities for creating an integrated and supportive community.
The Masterplan of the site is being designed to offer tenants and the local neighbourhood a community space for gathering. The large open green space at the heart of the development will have a large field and various structures to support community gatherings, cultural events, cook-outs, and celebrations. There will be walking and bike pathways, play spaces and structures, community and medicine gardens, with the linking concept of the greenspace being the pathways and waterways that connect us. The site will feature indigenous plantings, and dry river rock, and driftwood landscape features, berry patches, a central fire pit in phase 1A and in the large gathering space, as well as, smaller spaces for people to gather and connect. The intent is to design a space that serves as the backyard for the community.
Phased Development Process
The Urban Aboriginal Community project is led by the Aboriginal Housing Society of Prince George on the 6.8-acre parcel of land located at 1919 17th Avenue, Prince George, BC. Development is guided by a site master plan and will be constructed through a multi-phased process. Once complete, the Community is expected to offer up to 200 units of varying sizes to provide homes for families, singles, and seniors/Elders.
PHASE 1 – Affordable TOWNHOUSE Development
The first phase of development will consist of 50 affordable housing units within five 2-storey townhouse complexes along Bowser Avenue. The complex will feature an interior courtyard with playground, community gardens and community gathering space. This phase is funded under BC Housing’s 2018 Indigenous Housing Fund and is currently in the development stage. Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2020, reaching occupancy in late 2021.
PHASE 1 b – Childcare Facility and Digital Learning Centre
A key component of this vision is the creation of a community centre out of the existing building on site that includes a childcare facility, digital learning centre, Indigenous authored library, a large gathering space, and a community cafe. This concept is further strengthened through the integration of cultural elements, generous green spaces, parks, and outdoor gathering spaces that will foster many opportunities for people of all generations to meet and come together, creating a supportive and integrated community.
The community centre will be converted out of the existing building on site with building additions. It is envisioned as a key driver in creating and connecting people across generations. Given the high demand for childcare services in Prince George, a proposal for a new childcare facility offering spaces for 28 infants, toddlers and youth is also being developed with the Prince George Native Friendship Centre (PGNFC).
This phase of development is currently seeking funding, and the construction of the childcare facility is expected to roughly coincide with the Phase 1a townhome complexes.
Next Phases – Multi-family Housing & Services. The vision for the second phase of development is to offer 50 to 60 units of multi-generational affordable housing within apartment-style housing overlooking the central Gathering Space. This phase is currently seeking funding. A third, mixed-use development phase along 17th Avenue is also contemplated. The master plan vision also includes the provision to house health and wellness services, and potentially seniors/Elders as well as patient care lodging (in Phase two or three) for individuals and families traveling into the city to access health services. Further engagement sessions and stakeholder calls for participation will help inform the development of these next phases.
To date, we have completed three separate stages of community engagement that have helped inform and shape the development of the site masterplan, site programming. This includes the following:
- In 2016, two public sessions were held with the UNBC planning program and two public sessions were hosted with Dr. Patrick Stewart, a Nisga’a architect, on Aboriginal Design. All of the sessions were well-attended with approximately 200 participants in total.
- In 2016, students from the planning program at UNBC were invited to develop conceptual designs for re-imagining the use of the site.
- In 2017, neighbours and community members were invited to collaborative planning sessions at AHSPG’s offices with an estimated 100 participants. Additionally, AHSPG hosted outreach sessions held at the Firepit drop-in centre and New Hope Society.
- In 2018, a preliminary concept plan for the site was drafted by Boni Maddison Architects and PWL Landscape Architects through further workshops.
- In June 2019, AHSPG hosted a youth visioning/design session, two community co-design workshops, and a stakeholder luncheon, hosted by Tahltan Architect Kelly Edzerza-Bapty of Obsidian Architect Ltd. (Previously AZZIZA Indigenous Design Studio), DYS Architecture and PWL Group Landscape Architects. The results of these sessions have formed the latest community workshops report and the re-visioning of the community centre to include an indigenous library/learning facility that supports community members in continued learning and digital literacy.
- In February 2020, we are hosting Official Community Plan and Land Use Bylaw Amendment open house and information sessions The Society continues to explore options to further engage the neighbourhood and community through events at AHSPG’s office and community facilities.