The debate around the proposed Elliott Street supportive housing facility continues after the open house and public hearing slated for Dec. 13 was cancelled on the afternoon of Dec. 12.
BC Housing, the proponent of the project, has since sent out a statement that it will be issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to invite qualified non-profit societies to submit proposals to operate the facility.
“The public information session has been postponed until the operator is selected,” the press release said.
Earlier this month City Council sent a letter to Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson expressing concern that there is “a lack of confidence” from the community in Quesnel Shelter and Support Society (QSSS), the originally proposed operator of the new housing facility. The society also runs Seasons House.
The letter requested Minister Robinson intervene and recommend BC Housing put out an RFP to allow other organizations to bid to operate the housing project.
BC Housing’s Dec. 13 press release went on to say that the body is still working with Northern Health, the City of Quesnel, QSSS and community partners to review existing resources for those suffering from addiction issues in Quesnel.
“The committee is seeking a new location for the drop-in services currently provided at Seasons House,” it read.
It confirmed that no clinical services will be offered at the proposed facility in the 300 block of Elliott Street. The plan is to have 28 self-contained units for people at risk of homelessness, eight shelter beds and four supportive recovery units, as well as programming space.
BC Housing, which is also the proponent for Seasons House, with QSSS as the operator, said it has been searching for a new location for the shelter services offered at Seasons House since 2012, due to both structural compromises and concern over the current location being in a high-traffic tourist area.
Melanie MacDonald, executive director of Seasons House, says QSSS is disappointed with the decision.
“We feel that BC Housing was put in a difficult position and received a lot of pressure from our municipality to issue an RFP.
“BC Housing stood strong with us for quite some time and it was disappointing to see them cave to that.”
MacDonald says QSSS will “absolutely” submit a proposal for the operation of the facility under the official tender process.
“We are the appropriate service provider to serve this population in our community. We have 10 years’ experience and know all the best practice and the evidence-based approaches.”
Mayor Bob Simpson says he believes the RFP is the right way forward.
“Council had advised [BC Housing] to go to an RFP in September or October. We think it’s the right process for the community and the fair process for the other service providers that are interested in providing that service in this new facility.”
BC Housing’s RFP will be available in early 2018.