Highlights from the District of Hope council meeting Sept. 24.
An affordable housing plan for 755 Old Hope Princeton Way has gotten the go-ahead from council.
After a public hearing Sept. 24 with 22 people attending, council voted in favour of rezoning the property on Old Hope Princeton Way to accommodate 45 units of rental housing. The Mamele’awt Qweesome & To’o Housing Society (MQHS) plans to build 37 one- and two-bedroom apartments and eight three- and four-bedroom townhouses, for rent at affordable rates, on the lot.
Community members at the public hearing spoke in favour of the build, which MQHS is calling the Riverstone.
Affordable housing like the MQHS project is needed to house workers said Peter Bailey, speaking on behalf of Free Rein Associates and the Work BC centre in the community.
“We’re seeing a number of businesses in the community who are struggling to find workers. This, together with the lack of available housing in the community, is starting to create something of a catch-22 situation,” he said.
Stephanie Hooker echoed the need to provide workforce housing, as well as the importance of providing a diversity of housing if the town wants to grow and keep current residents here.
“We’re seeing already a trend with the development pressure coming from the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, increasing housing prices. So it’s not just about the people who are coming here finding housing, it’s about the people, the seniors and families who live here being priced out of their current accommodations,” she said.
Janice Silver, CEO of the housing organization, gave assurances to the public and council that locals will get priority in the rental application process. She also said some units will ‘most likely’ be pet-friendly, to which some gathered at the public hearing expressed relief.
While the exact rent is still to be worked out, Silver said a broad range of lower- to medium-income earners could be served by this build, including elders, families and singles.
“It isn’t geared specifically to people that are currently homeless. It’s definitely geared to an income range, so definitely the vulnerable who are at risk of homelessness who are looking and can afford to pay some rent. There will be some subsidy attached, so it’s definitely going to be geared to lower- to medium-income families,” she said.
“We would love to see a 2020 completion date, if all goes well,” Silver said, adding it takes an average of one year from the time the building permit is issued to when the building is finished.
The rezoning to allow for the MQHS build passed its third reading Sept. 24, it now has to be approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure before it comes back to council for adoption.
Gerry Dyble ends her run as District of Hope councillor
After seven years on council, Gerry Dyble said her goodbyes and wished the five other councillors who are running for re-election the best ahead of the Oct. 20 municipal election.
“It’s not for the faint of heart to put your name into public office. Sometimes the accolades are few and far between, it’s more the criticism and what you’re not doing well in the community. So you have to have broad shoulders and thick skin,” she said. “But it’s well worth the effort, sitting here for seven years. It’s well worth the effort, being part of such a great community and seeing where Hope has come from to where it’s going to.”
Dyble had good news to share in her second-to-last council meeting, with her role in bringing a 20-person emergency shelter project to Hope.
“Right now we have four shelter beds in the community, which doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg in regards to housing individuals. There is no 24/7 services for individuals who are homeless,” she said.
The shelter, to be located at 650 Old Hope Princeton Way, will offer shelter at night and a drop-in during the day for services other than shelter. Twelve people have been hired to work in the shelter, 11 of which are from Hope, and Dyble is negotiating to hire two more.
“We’re not talking minimum wage jobs, we’re talking good, solid employment,” she said.
Mayor, council push flood protection, Station House with provincial bigwigs at UBCM
John Horgan has Hope’s Station House on his radar said Mayor Wilfried Vicktor, who assured council and the public that he’d given him a ‘very respectful blast’ on the issue when he found himself standing beside the B.C. premier earlier this month.
Station House was one of the issues Hope’s Mayor and council brought up with provincial politicians at the 2018 Union of BC Municipalities convention Sept. 10 to 14.
At a meeting with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena, Vicktor said he was very clear on how serious the district is on rectifying the issue of Station House.
“If they do not negotiate a suitable settlement, that litigation is certainly an option that we’re ready for. And they’re very exposed here, because of course they had legally binding agreements that they signed,” he said.
The land on which the Station House sits, at 111 Old Hope Princeton Way, is owned by the province. The building is owned by the District. The province was meant to transfer ownership of the property to the district in a ‘fee simple’ transfer, but was unable to complete the transfer as it had failed to undertake First Nations consultation.
The Station House project has cost the district $215,069 so far, Hope’s chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky stated in an email, and annual upkeep of the building in its current state is $2,900 per year. The plan initially was to house visitor services in Station House once the renovations had been completed, they are now housed in a Britco trailer which the district has budgeted $20,400 per year for.
Othello Road was another topic of conversation with the transportation minister.
“We talked about the Othello Road corridor, the necessity to upgrade the road there. We’re hoping for a letter of support direct from the minister for future grant applications because it is a multi-million dollar project,” Vicktor said.
The need for provincial and federal help for flood protection for the Coquihalla and Fraser river corridors was the subject of a meeting with Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development at the convention.
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