More than 100 people gathered outside Grand Forks City Hall on Monday night to protest a proposal for supportive housing.
They were not only against building the project downtown but anywhere in the Boundary region town, which is home to about 4,050 residents as of the 2016 census.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Grand Forks officials were faced with potentially rezoning land on 70th Ave. to accommodate the proposal.
Back in May, the city proposed swapping four lots it recently purchased near the corner of 70th Ave. and 19th St. instead of B.C. Housing using a 2nd St. location it owns to build a 13-unit no-barrier facility.
“B.C. Housing, in this situation, didn’t consult with us in putting in the 2nd street [proposal] but certainly has been negotiating with us around the option of the 70th Ave. location,” Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor said.
After council discussed potentially rezoning the 70th Ave. properties to accommodate supportive housing, it voted against the measure.
“It is a question of what is good for all and how is that determined,” councillor Cathy Korolek said. “We are not the only community struggling for solutions.”
Grand Forks has been left with the job of public relations for the proposed B.C. government housing project, according to Korolek.
B.C. Housing has left “elected officials to try putting a positive twist on projects that have far reaching effects,” she said.
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“We are struggling with flood recovery, relying on the same government,” Korolek said. “It’s been over a year and we’re still struggling. Where should our focus be?”
The town’s mayor said Grand Forks residents believe they are missing supports that are necessary for low or no-barrier housing.
“The concern of a lot of citizens is that there are not the support services from the RCMP, from mental health and from addictions,” Taylor said. “Those are missing supports that council is also concerned about.”
With the property swap defeated before rezoning began, it’s expected B.C. Housing will move forward with the supportive housing at their 2nd St. property.
Taylor said he hopes for further discussion with the B.C. government to ensure residents of the facility have appropriate support services.
“Everyone is concerned that we get the other agencies of the government to the table to realize that the success of these projects depends on their involvement,” he said.
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