Hope council has approved a supportive housing plan for the homeless during a meeting on Sept. 26.
Council voted on the issue Monday evening with three councillors — Scott Medlock, Heather Stewin, and Victor Smith — in favour of the project and two councillors — Dusty Smith and Craig Traun — against it.
Members of the public at the meeting applauded the decision.
“As a community member I can relate to what I heard at the public hearing. As a member of council, I believe that we serve the whole community. [Both] the good and the not so good,” says Coun. Stewin. “Supportive housing is something that is needed in the community…from the perspective of inclusion, and creating an inclusive community, I stand in favour of this proposal. I think we need to be cheerleaders, not protesters.”
On Aug. 29, a public hearing took place to discuss the issue of supportive housing for Hope’s homeless population. Members of the community were allowed to give their opinion on rezoning the property, at 1275 Seventh Avenue, so that a 56-bed supportive housing unit can be built by the hospital.
“I [originally] voted against it because of one, location, two, the size, and three, the vulnerable public lives close to it,” says Coun. Dusty Smith. “I [still] just don’t see this working for our community…I don’t think [Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS), BC Housing, and Fraser Health] listened to our concerns. And I say that our, as in our community, and not just as a councillor…so I will not be supporting this application tonight.”
Housing and homelessness is an ongoing concern in Hope and many residents have a strong opinion on the issue. In March, representatives told the Standard that Hope has around 100 people without homes. This number is believed to have risen throughout the months.
The plan for the three-storey building includes 56 beds, 15 shelter beds, and involves a 20-year land lease. It also includes two floors of apartment units, with lounge spaces, medical beds, offices, kitchens and the shelter beds on the main floor. Residents of the building would pay rent and a meal program would be included to ensure food security.
Council also voted on re-zoning for the Anhart Community Housing Society (ACHS) and Fraser Inclusive and Supportive Housing Society (FISH) project, and strengthening by-laws around vehicle storage on properties. Council voted in favour for both of those issues.
The next council meeting is set for Oct. 11.