BC Housing, in partnership with Quesnel Shelter & Support Society, held a public information meeting Tuesday to brief Quesnel residents on the proposed building of a supportive housing facility on Elliott St.
The development, which is proposed for the vacant land at 353/361/375 Elliott St., would provide self-contained supportive housing units and shelter for individuals who are homeless or at risk, and would close the current Seasons House location on Carson Avenue.
The new building would provide 28 units for independent supportive housing, eight year-round shelter beds, four units of support recovery and up to 10 extreme weather response beds from November to March.
The public was invited to read through information on the benefits of the project and speak to Seasons House and BC Housing representatives about the plans.
Many West Quesnel residents are concerned the location of the proposed building is too near elementary schools and daycares.
One objector said: “They’re telling us that is the only place they can find that’s suitable. Wrong. There are lots of empty buildings in Quesnel. The city owns lots of land. We’ve got an elementary school right there. Put it somewhere else.”
Another expressed concern with the type of facility it will house.
“If it was low-income housing, yes. But not a treatment centre, not an addiction centre. Absolutely not.”
Others in favour of the project said the proposed extended support services are much needed.
Kathy Juric, a family support worker at North Cariboo Aboriginal Family Program Society, said: “[The new facility] will close some of the gaps we have; the people who need support, they don’t fit into my criteria, they won’t fit into another agency’s criteria, but with this, they fit and they can work as hard as they need to be successful.”
Quesnel local Ken Carlson said: “Honestly, it’s a great idea but it’s really divisive for the community. It’s two blocks from a school and two blocks from four daycares.
“Where are the assurances that this is going to be safe? If that can be sorted out, I don’t think there’s an issue.”
Seasons House caseworker Ian Hardy agreed. “People are posting on Facebook about the needles and things that they’re finding [on Elliott St.] already; it goes to show it’s already there.
“The great thing about Seasons House going there is that support workers can help the community to clean the area up, and keep it clean and safe.”
A date for a public hearing on the housing project will be finalized soon, said City of Quesnel officials.