UPDATE: Kelowna city council passed first reading Monday afternoon on a controversial housing project for the homeless. The vote paves the way for a public hearing to be held sometime in the new year. The public hearing is expected to be so large, council directed city staff to start looking for an appropriate venue.
Despite neighbourhood opposition, steps are being taken to move a controversial homeless housing project forward.
A rezoning application for the supportive housing complex on Agassiz Road is expected to go before Kelowna city council Monday afternoon.
The outcome of today’s meeting could pave the way to a public hearing.
The plan is to build a modular, four-storey, 52-unit supportive housing complex on an empty lot at 2025 Agassiz Road.
It’s been described as a wet facility meaning residents would be allowed to consume alcohol and use drugs on site.
The neighbourhood in question is situated between Spall and Copper Roads, behind the Orchard Plaza.
There are a number of condo buildings that surround the empty lot and many of the residents who live nearby are strongly opposed to the project.
“The problem is very simply that this is a seniors neighbourhood, ” area resident Pia Turner said. “This is not the right area for it.”
Turner and her husband bought a unit in one the buildings a year and a half ago, when they moved to the Okanagan from the Lower Mainland.
“We had already checked out what was going on this vacant lot and it was quite a nice little townhouse complex that was going in here, which has now subsequently changed,” she told Global News. “Had I known what was going in here now, we never would have bought here.”
The project is being spearheaded by B.C. Housing, but would be operated by the John Howard Society.
Earlier this month, a similar housing complex opened on Commerce Street off of Enterprise Way.
It’s all part of the city’s Journey Home strategy, which aims to combat the homelessness crisis in Kelowna.
The rezoning application for the latest supportive housing project on Agassiz Road will be before council starting Monday afternoon.
More details to come.