Controversial housing project in Calgary approved on appeal

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Controversial housing project can go ahead after winning appeal
WATCH ABOVE: The Development Appeal Board approved a proposal from the Calgary Drop-In Centre to turn the old Quality Inn into full-service apartments for the working poor. As David Boushy reports, not everyone’s happy with the decision – Jun 23, 2016

A controversial proposal by the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre to transform a vacant northeast hotel into supportive housing has been approved by the Calgary Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

Last October the proposal was rejected by the Calgary Planning Commission.

The Drop-In Centre immediately filed an appeal.

Thursday’s decision means the Drop-In Centre can convert the hotel rooms into 79 fully-functional one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Thirty-three of them will be rented out to the general public, while the other 46 will go to homeless men and women who qualify and have enough income to pay the rent.

The project, called Centre 4800, divided the nearby community of Greenview from Day 1 of the proposal four years ago.

Many in the community worried the facility would become a magnet for crime, while others were supportive.

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“We believe in the people that we serve, and it’s been a victorious day for those who need housing,” said Debbie Newman, executive director of the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre, following the decision.

The Development Appeal Board said the application met bylaw requirements.

“In weighing all of the evidence and arguments, the board finds that the evidence of the appellant is more compelling than those who spoke in opposition to the appeal,” said Rick Grol, chair of the Development Appeal Board.

But some are clearly disappointed with the decision.

Community groups had previously complained the Drop-In Centre wasn’t forthcoming with its plans, and kept many in the dark.

“We’re talking about an agency that plays by their own rules and is very difficult to work with.. that’s primarily it,” said Marvin Quashnick, vice president of public service for the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association.

Calgary Drop-In Centre. File / Global News

There are several conditions attached to the proposal – many of them cosmetic.

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They include repainting the building, installing new windows, and improving lighting and fencing on the property, to name a few.

The Drop-In Centre must also have staff and security at the building at all times.

It’s been ordered to establish a citizens liaison committee, and is urged to enter into a “good neighbour agreement” with the community and any other residents and businesses that wish to participate.

The Drop-In Centre says residents will have to wait at least a year-and-a-half before the building is ready for residents.

That’s OK with Wayne, who wants to be among the first to move in.

Wayne, a Calgary Drop-In Centre client.

He’s been working part-time doing laundry at the Drop-In Centre, where he’s lived for the past five years.

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Wayne is thrilled with the decision.

“Awesome, absolutely awesome. It’s going to be my home – it feels great.”


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