The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce has stated that it supports a “housing first” model for addressing homelessness, but has called for stakeholders to consider a different location for a proposed housing project in the community.
At the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting on Monday, the national organization called on the federal government to maintain the housing first approach in creating affordable and supportive housing as a first priority in the development of a national strategy.
In a press release on Wednesday, Abbotsford Chamber president Mike Welte said that homelessness is a complex issue that requires a variety of solutions, and the organization is “asking the federal government to co-ordinate efforts with the provinces and municipalities to stimulate new affordable housing construction.”
The Abbotsford Chamber also stated that it is encouraging stakeholders to consider another location for a local project proposed by Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) and BC Housing – which would build a 21-unit housing project in the downtown core.
The project would built on 2408 Montvue Ave. across from ACS, and would use a housing first approach – following the principle that it is easier to address additional issues faced by homeless people, such as addiction or mental health problems, if they have a roof over their heads.
But the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) has repeatedly raised concerns about the project as it would be built within the city’s downtown zoning (C7) – which specifically prohibits supportive recovery use in the area.
The Chamber states that the C7 zoning was created to deal with the formerly deteriorating conditions within the historic city centre – and that vacant and abandoned buildings, inappropriate business uses and a high concentration of social service agencies contributed to the decline of the area in the past.
The Chamber states that the ACS project is “intended to meet an additional identified community need,” but added that the city must address “our common concerns in a manner that builds on our strengths as a community, not one in which we must cause separate and distinct needs to conflict.”