Day two and the final day of public hearings into BC Housing’s plan to build supportive housing in Hope started off this afternoon with three residents speaking in favour and two against.
The hearings are focused on two bylaw amendments that, if passed by council, will allow BC Housing’s plans for 52 units of supportive housing at 650 Old Hope Princeton Way to proceed as well as make the existing 20-bed shelter at that address permanent.
Residents can come to the Hope Legion hall to speak this afternoon and evening (Wednesday, Nov. 4), with each resident getting five minutes to speak. Mayor Peter Robb said he intends to keep the session running until at least 8 p.m. today.
One seven-year resident of Hope, speaking in favour of the proposed development, said that housing is the start of addressing other concerns in a person’s life. “Housing will give them the opportunity to gain employment, which is not possible without an address, clean clothing and proper hygiene, none of which is accessible on the street,” she said.
“Housing will provide them with a sense of worth and push them to work toward a better quality of life, housing will allow them to access the proper services they require and for care workers to have access to them regularly.”
She added that supportive would also benefit the district as there will be less waste and danger that comes with temporary camps inhabited by people without a fixed address. “I hope that people in our community get this chance of healing and living a better life,” she said.
Another resident said the key to addressing homelessness and associated health issues people who live rough face was having a clear plan from government. “I’m heartened we have a local organization spearheading a solution and council who is listening,” she said. “Will (the housing project) have problems? Yes. But they will be noted and addressed.”
Former longtime mayor of Hope Bud Gardner said he is “totally, totally, totally” against the proposed housing plans. He agreed for the need to help people who are facing homelessness, yet was against the facility being located across from a new housing development and “in the best commercial area of Hope” near condos, gas stations and restaurants.
“It’s unbelievable that we’re even talking about this. We need to help these people, I totally agree with that. But not the middle of our town,” he said, adding he wants to put the facility out of town where people can “grow a garden and learn to do something.” Gardner added he was concerned the facility will be a low barrier facility, what has also been called a “wet facility”, where those who take illicit substances or legal cannabis can do so in their homes.
Another resident of Hope, who works in the local construction industry, said he was concerned that the building would house people who are not from the community. “If the people that we look after are the members of our community, I would be in favour,” he said. “A lot of the people I see out there are not members of my community. And I fear that this project will bring in a lot of other people into our community who are not members of our community.”
The speaker added that there are likely many people in Hope that are either unaware that the process is going on or are reluctant to speak. Some people he spoke to said that when they found out that other “interested parties” not just Mayor and council would be listening to speakers at the public hearing, they “got cold feet.”
More to follow.
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