An emergency shelter in Hope has been given a bit more time.
Hope District Council voted to extend a temporary shelter permit to 650 Old Princeton Way from April to Oct. 31, 2021. Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS) executive director Gerry Dyble said the ultimate goal would be complete rezoning of the property to put in 52 units of supportive housing.
“Of course, having an extension of the temporary use permit to allow the shelter to remain open not only benefits the clients, but it also benefits the community,” Dyble told The Standard. “In the absence of that, on April 1, folks would have been out on the street with nowhere to go.”
As it stands, the emergency shelter houses about 15 beds . Dyble said outside of extreme weather conditions, the shelter turns away an average of five to seven people per night because they reach capacity.
During 2021’s first snowstorm, a partnership between Grace Baptist Church, HATS and B.C. Housing opened up 15 additional beds for Hope’s homeless population to protect them from the extreme weather. Dyble said six people accessed the beds on Feb. 8.
Had B.C. Housing’s plans gone through, the 15-bed shelter on Old Hope Princeton way would’ve been permanent and the way would’ve been paved for 52 self-contained supportive housing units. District Council voted 1-4 to defeat the plans. Councillor Scott Medlock was the sole supporting vote following tow days of public hearings about the issue in early November 2020.
Councillor Dusty Smith did not participate in a discussion or vote on the matter. He said his signature and address had been forged on a petition that opposed the bylaw amendments and that it was a conflict of interest to participate in voting on or discussing the issue.
Prior to the vote, Councillor Craig Traun said nearby local businesses shouldn’t have to “cope with 52 new neighbours dealing with all different stages of recovery.” Councillor Bob Erickson said the low-barrier supportive housing units only enabled people who use illicit substances.”
Dyble said that while treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues without supportive housing to back it up can be effective, based on her experience, the success rate is very low.
“I think for the most part, the community wants to support our vulnerable population,” Dyble said of the ongoing supportive housing debate. “They’re just misinformed and and they don’t understand the complexities. You need to have [that supportive housing] option. Nobody’s thinking of going to [addiction or mental health treatment] when you’re living under the bridge and wondering where your next meal is and it’s -10 C outside.”
In addition to helping the local homeless population, HATS offers substance abuse services, domestic violence programs and in-need youth assistance programs.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live at Facebook.com/DistrictOfHope.