BC Housing and the Quesnel Shelter and Support Society provided concerned citizens with information on a new Supportive Housing project at an open house last night.
The proposed facility would be located on Elliott Street in West Quesnel and would still include 8 homeless shelter beds.
But Malachy Tohill, the Regional Director for BC Housing in the North, says it will be a lot different…
“One of the differences is we’re creating 28 supportive housing units so the current people using the shelter will move into those independent living units. The shelter portion of this, when people get in there, it’s about putting a case plan around them, it’s about moving them into the housing that’s already existing in the building or into the private market. It isn’t about continuing to live in a shelter long term.”
Tohill says there will no longer be a drop-in component which has led to the problems with the current downtown facility.
Other issues raised last night included the proximity of the facility to a nearby school and daycare, the impact it might have on property values in the area and the fact that it is near a known drug area…
“I would have to say that a number of the people that are probably currently using in the area are either a…living in the area and will continue to use which has nothing to do with this housing project or b, they’re using and by them being part of this housing project and being in supportive housing and having their own unit might help them on the road to recovery and might be a benefit for them and might be a benefit for the community.”
The next step is the rezoning process on August 29th.
Tohill acknowledges that the project is not a done deal yet…
“We haven’t purchased it yet and I think it still has to go through the municipal process which is amendment to the current zoning bylaw that is there. So once it goes through the rezoning the City and the Mayor will make that determination at the end of the day. And if they say no they’re not going to amend that zoning bylaw then we hear what the community wants, we’re going to respect that and move on and see what we can find and what else we can do in the community.
Tohill says at the end of the day we want to be supportive of the City of Quesnel.
1. Were other areas considered ?
“We have actually been looking for a location for around two years and yes we looked at other sites. This was the best area suited for this building to support those most in need…a location to downtown within walking distance, location next to mental health and addictions building where they also provide supports.”
2. Concerns have been raised that it is near a school and a daycare.
“Any issues that come up need to be addressed right away. If there are issues that are happening at the school and they can sit down as a community with that good neighbour agreement, talk about what those challenges are, what those issues are and what ways to resolve those issues. I think that’s a way they can help alleviate any issues that may or may not come up, i know they are also putting in a block watch program to also look at what are happening to the community and what are around it.”
3. Would you agree that most residents don’t want to live near these types of facilities ?
“What we have found out, and i can think of a case in Prince George where we put a 30 unit building for people staying in the shelter, their own units, staffed 24-7, and certainly the people didn’t like it going into their neighbourhood either. What we find out is when we build them, because these are really nice buildings, what we found out is they enhance the community to some degree because they are beautiful building and well managed. We make sure services and programs are there to support individuals. We also ensure that some of the activity, although we can’t control all of the activity that goes on around that community, but certainly that we’re not a contributor to it. I heard today about already finding needles around the neighbourhood. They’ll have a team that goes out and collects sharps and walks around the community and collects stuff, it could be an enhancement to the community.