Public hearings into a proposed supportive housing development in Hope took place Nov.3 and 4 at the Hope Legion hall. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Public hearings into a proposed supportive housing development in Hope took place Nov.3 and 4 at the Hope Legion hall. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

BC Housing provides mayor and council with details on supportive housing plans

Local politicians were able to ask BC Housing reps for details during two days of public hearings

In between speakers at Nov. 3 and 4 public hearings, Hope’s Mayor and council got the chance to pose questions to BC Housing about their plans to construct a supportive housing building in Hope.

Who will live in the supportive housing building?

One main topic of concern for residents who oppose BC Housing’s plans, is that people with no fixed address would be “sent” from other communities to fill the building. In response, BC Housing representatives said that it is not their intention to use the site for people who are not from the community.

“We understand that it is sometimes hard for a community to accept that they have their own homeless problem. This was our intention, to meet the needs of your community,” said Naomi Brunemeyer, BC Housing’s director of regional development for Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Regions.

Frank Tick, coordinated access and assessment manager with BC Housing, said the application process will involve a rigorous interview including establishing that prospective residents are from the community. “The priority will be folks that are homeless in Hope,” he said. “We’ve actually never had a situation where we’ve never been able to fill a building.”

Justin Byers, a supportive housing advisor with BC Housing, said that there is no hard and fast timeline set out for how long someone has lived here to be eligible for the building. It is based on need and is determined by the group doing the intake. Mayor and council, a community advisory committee and BC Housing could also have input into this he added.

“It’s really what makes most sense. Is the need in the community to serve people that have been here five years? Or is the need to serve people that have been here a year or less?” Byers said.

Gerry Dyble, executive director of the Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS) who are the prospective operators of the building, said that those who will be considered for housing would already need to be connected with services in the community. “So they can’t just come in off of the highway and say ‘I’m here for housing,’” she said.

Brian Dodd, manager of the House of Hope emergency shelter, explained that the intake process for the shelter is extensive. People are turned away, he said, around a dozen people a week who don’t have direct connections or roots in the community. “The average age of our guests is in their 50s,” Dodd said. “The majority of our guests were born and raised in this community.”

How is the need in Hope established?

The need in the community was captured by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) 2020 homeless count, which counted 69 people homeless in Hope and Boston Bar. The survey found, across the FVRD, that 49 per cent of those living homeless had been in the region for over 11 years.

“So already we’re beyond those 52 units,” Tick said. In addition to these numbers, Tick said BC Housing works with local partners like Fraser Health and HATS to narrow down the appropriate building size.

Some have questioned why HATS conducted the homeless count in Hope, something Dyble addressed directly at the hearings. “In every single community you will find that it is typically those who are working with the homeless population who are doing the homeless counts,” she said. The homeless count document lists the various community organizations involved in the count.

“If folks are not feeling confident that we have actually counted 69 people, and we know that a point in time count is always four times lower typically than what the number is in the community, then we can certainly have a conversation about what our case files look like.”

Tick urged people not to include the 20 existing shelter beds when considering how much housing was available for people facing homelessness. “Yes there are existing shelter beds in Hope, but shelter is not housing,” he said. “The idea is to move people from shelter into housing, because again, shelter is not housing.”

Why 52 units?

The number of units in the proposed development – 52 – was arrived at both by looking at the need that exists in the community, the lot size and the building expense.

Development manager Patryk Piaseczny said this number of units would meet the needs in the community and be economically beneficial. “It was a win-win situation for us, where we’re going to be building units at a lower cost base plus providing more housing to meet the demands of the community,” he said.

Housing seniors

In a response to a question from Mayor Peter Robb about seniors facing homelessness, Tick said around one third of those counted are over the age of 50.

In the Eastern Fraser Valley, which includes Kent, Harrison, Hope and Boston Bar, 45 per cent of those surveyed in the 2020 homeless count were over the age of 50, this was an increase from 29 per cent in 2017.

“Folks that are living rough outdoors are often much older than their chronological age, because they suffer from a lot more health challenges, the don’t connect as well to primary care services,” Tick explained. “So, we can say somebody who’s 55 is a senior when in reality somebody who’s perhaps 30, who has been living outside for a long time, really has the same health challenges as somebody who is 55 in the general population.”

How will business concerns be addressed?

Councillor Bob Erickson stated his concern about the situation with supportive housing in Chilliwack, referencing conversations he has had with local businesses and issues with people “wandering around all day” and throwing garbage, a large cost to the district.

Brunemeyer countered that it isn’t the residents creating these issues, rather its those people who still don’t have housing. “So we are actually on our third project there, which is being supported by the City of Chilliwack,” she said.

How the development would communicate with the business community would include a good neighbour agreement, Brunemeyer said, as well as involving more businesses on the community advisory committee.

The committee, which has been meeting monthly since 2018, includes representatives from the district, RCMP, health and mental health, HATS, Chawathil First Nation, local business and residents.

Why the 650 Old Hope Princeton Way location?

“To really solve these people’s problems, which we all want to do, you need all three – you need housing, you need a job and you need psychiatric and drug rehabilitation care,” said Erickson, expressing concern that Hope has neither full time psychiatric care or drug rehabilitation. He asked why other parcels of land hadn’t been looked at.

Piaseczny said this was a property BC Housing identified and decided to pursue. Tick added that the concept is “housing first, but it is certainly not housing only.” A critical part of the Housing First concept – which involves rapidly moving people from shelters or from the streets into stable, long-term housing with supports – is that people need to connect with services once they are housed and location becomes very important.

“If we’re talking about a large, rural, remote property that’s away from services with poor transportation networks, the reality is it gets very difficult to connect folks to the services they need. And a lot of folks will actually choose not to live there,” Tick said.

What is the impact on policing and other emergency services?

In response to a question from Mayor Robb, Brunemeyer said there is usually an increase in emergency calls –which could be fire, ambulance or police – in the first three months of operations, followed by a big decrease.

“That’s not necessarily a crime spike, it’s just a call to police spike,” she said. “We don’t see a crime spike associated with it. Then we see a big decrease.”

The initial increase in calls includes calls to ambulance Brunemeyer said, as “some of these folks who have not had their health concerns met for a long time, certainly are producing some ambulance calls when they’re first brought indoors and having some other healthcare concerns.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:

Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC HousingHomelessnesshope

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


The 650 Old Hope Princeton Way lot where BC Housing wants to construct 52 units of supportive housing. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

The 650 Old Hope Princeton Way lot where BC Housing wants to construct 52 units of supportive housing. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Just Posted

RCMP don’t want to see you having your vehicle towed away after an aggressive driving infraction. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP hand out more than 500 tickets in aggressive driving crackdown

Police say they’ll continue to focus on speeding, aggressive and distracted driving

Home sales for November in the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board were profitable for sellers because of historically low supply. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)
Historically low supply leads to higher prices in Chilliwack real estate market

City dwellers want to relocate to the eastern Fraser Valley and are willing to pay a high price

Riders will need to don face coverings to ski and snowboard at Manning this winter. (Manning Park Resort photo)
Manning Park slopes open early

Early season snowfall allowed for opening this weekend, 56 centimetre snow base recorded Nov. 30

Mr. Bergen, a statue of a working man, was stolen from a porch in Popkum on Nov. 18, along with a marble statue. (Submitted photo)
Heavy statue and fountain thieved off porch in Popkum

Rightful owner has had statue for 27 years and wants it returned

The winning home of the 2019 Hope Christmas Lights contest was on Cypress Street. Residents have until Dec. 5 to sign their street up for this year’s contest. (Submitted photo)
Holiday cheer, even in a pandemic year

Here’s what is happening in Hope and area as the holiday season kicks off

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Most Read