There were fewer than previous meeting, but are still some concerns over a proposed supportive housing project on Elliott Street in West Quesnel.
Around half a dozen people took to the mic in opposition at a public hearing on the rezoning of the property in Council Chambers last night.
Candita Ray has a daughter that goes to nearby Riverview Elementary School….
“You guys are playing Russian roulette with my children. I’ve had it said to me by the Principal that needles have been found on those school grounds. My daughter is a young child, there are four years old children starting school, they don’t know what needles are.”
Darrell Chouinard is a resident in the area.
He says he was recently the victim in a home invasion and wonders if he will have to live in fear if a shelter component is added to this facility afterwards…
“Is it going to be patrolled, is there a curfew of when they have to be in that building. I keep going back to the old meeting when it was a different proposal. After we get this bylaw passed and everything is it then going to be thrown down our throats, oh we need this, we’re going to do it now, can that happen ?”
About half of the people who spoke out last night were actually in favour of the project.
That includes the Quesnel School District.
Superintendent Sue-Ellen Miller noted that the concerns that they raised have now been addressed, including having a good neighbour agreement in place.
The proposal is for 32 supportive housing units with space for staff and programming on the first floor.
It no longer includes a homeless shelter or extreme weather beds.
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson says he was not surprised by the lower turnout for this public hearing, compared to the previous one.
He says a lot of the previous concerns were around the shelter component and drop-in services that are now gone.
Simpson, in addressing the concern that the shelter component could come back, noted that it can’t as it would require another change in the zoning bylaw.
He says there was one question that he heard last night that he feels still does need to be addressed…
“The question was what is the accountability of the operator to the community and what’s BC Housing’s accountability to make sure the operator fulfills the obligations of the proposal as proposed to Council.”
Simpson says staff will now put together a report on all of the concerns that were heard and it will go before Council early next week….
“The next reading for Council would be up to third reading. We wouldn’t do final reading until we get the final development proposal, it’s got to go through the development permit process, it’s got to go through the naming of the operator, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. I think if Council decides to go to third reading it gives BC Housing the signal they need to proceed to the next phase which is the development permit phase.”
One thing that won’t be in the report are client based concerns.
Simpson says that is not Council’s responsibility.
He says they are not people planners, they are land planners, and those questions are more appropriate to go to BC Housing and then the named operator.
The Public Hearing was on the rezoning of the property to high density residential in the Official Community Plan and to make a bylaw change to clarify what the definitions of assisted living and supportive housing are in the zoning.