Quesnel City Council approved a series of proposed amendments to the Elliott Street Housing Agreement on Tuesday evening (Sept. 4).
The agreement is between BC Housing and the City of Quesnel and provides the city with some tools for recourse if the operators of the proposed housing unit on Elliott Street do not meet the requirements around the usage of the property, services offered, and ensuring parking generated by the facility remains off the street. It also requires the operators of the unit to adhere to the Good Neighbour Agreement, a communication tool between the proposed operators, the city and the neighbourhood.
Mayor Bob Simpson lauded the work done by the city in coming up with the new agreement.
“I would be surprised if language like this exists in other housing agreements around the province based on conversations I’ve had with other mayors,” he said.
“I think they’re going to be looking at this housing agreement on future development because of the authority that it gives to councils. Because at the end of the day right now, our authority ends after we sign off on the final reading for some of these projects and, as we’ve seen in the case of Seasons House, when we struggle to have a back and forth and we say we’re not comfortable with how things are going and we have the community coming to us, we have no tools.”
Councillor Scott Elliott was also impressed with what he saw.
“I think that the city is doing everything possible to try and make sure that we have the housing agreement and the Good Neighbour Agreement there for everyone to see,” he said.
The agreement specifies if BC Housing fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement, the city may request a remedy to the default on 60 days notice. After those 60 days, if a solution has not been provided, the city would be within its rights to terminate the agreements with the operator and seek a new one who will satisfy the existing terms.
“I’m very happy that it comes down to the 60 day notice,” said Elliott. “If there aren’t any changes made when there is a situation there is going to be somebody held responsible, which I think the community has been demanding.”
According to the administration report prepared by the Director of Development Services, Tanya Turner, BC Housing will be responsible for ensuring that other uses, like service provision to non-residents or shelter uses do not creep into the building. This would include emergency shelter or extreme weather response use as well as drop-in services to non-residents.
BC Housing will also be responsible for addressing any issues on site that pertain to proper management and operation of the housing facility.
Agreements around parking are also in place that would ensure excess vehicles don’t clog up the road.
Director Turner said now that an operator has been selected she will be contacting BC Housing to ask them to start facilitating a discussion with the operator.
She expects there will be quite a while before they submit their development permit but says she think the city should proceed on the Good Neighbour Agreement so it is finalized before the final reading.
Mayor Simpson said it’s important that city council expedite it while ensuring the language is strong.
“We wouldn’t do anything on the final reading on the actual project itself until we’ve got a Good Neighbour Agreement that we’re comfortable with and we know we’ve got the tools we need,” he said, while reiterating, “the timing may be difficult for some people to get because it may look like we’re advancing the housing project with this [but we are not], we’re advancing the relationship with BC housing and us, [as well as the agreement between] us, BC Housing, the operator and the neighbourhood.”