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BC Housing drops plans for controversial Cloverdale housing project

Public opposition forces surprise cancelation of proposed Surrey supportive housing project
Just hours before a community open house on a Cloverdale facility for homeless people, the application was withdrawn. As Jennifer Palma reports it all has to do with public pressure and a decision by one of the candidates in the upcoming civic election.

BC Housing has withdrawn an application for a controversial homeless housing project in Cloverdale.

The proposal, for 60 units of supportive housing at 176A Street and 58 Avenue, has met with significant pushback from local business leaders and some politicians.

The agency has also scrapped an open house that was scheduled about the project for Thursday night.

“Homelessness continues to be an issue in all areas of Surrey, including Cloverdale where there is a significant population of people in need of a home with support services,” said BC Housing in a statement.

READ MORE: Supportive housing proposal in Cloverdale needs a ‘second look,’ says councillor

“The province will continue working with the City of Surrey and non-profit housing providers to create much-needed homes with the necessary supports for people who are experiencing homelessness.”

Surrey mayor Linda Hepner said despite the move, the city isn’t giving up on social housing.

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“It’s a difficult problem to solve because we do need modular housing available for those who have reached a point in recovery where they’re actually looking for jobs and they’re part of the community. We do need to find spaces and that is always difficult.”

However, she said the proposed location were just a bad fit for the project.

Earlier on Thursday, Surrey mayoral candidate Tom Gill had reversed his support for the project, saying he’d had a change of heart and now believed downtown Cloverdale is the “wrong location” for the project.

Just a few days ago Gill supported the housing slated for old town Cloverdale.

But on Thursday, he said the project should be relocated. The comment came a day after he toured the proposed location and a discussion with BC Housing.

“[It] just made more sense for me to do that walk and through that walk, I understood what the implications would be for that community,” Gill said.

Gill also says he has been swamped with emails from business owners and residents who are opposed to the project.

READ MORE: Right project, wrong place: Business leaders reject supportive housing proposal in Cloverdale

Cloverdale Community Association President Mike Bola says this is purely a political move.

“This is the issue we have with politicians if they’re really out there to support the community and the city of Surrey then they need to be upfront and honest right away.”

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Bola says the housing is needed, no question, but in a different location.

The problem he says is that the city owns very little land in Cloverdale.

The project would help homeless people suffering from drug addiction or mental health issues.