A proposal for a new apartment-style housing development located at 1656 Queensway has area residents signing petitions and staging protests against the proposed shelter.
“The site of the former Backpacker Motel will be considered by the city through a rezoning application process and a public hearing,” said MLA for Prince George-Mount Robson Shirley Bond. “The owner of the site, BC Housing, will also hold community consultations before the re-zoning process,” said Bond. “I’ve heard the concerns of the community and I’m pleased BC Housing will give people a chance to comment before the rezoning process gets underway.”
Sunday saw more than 100 people at a protest at Ingledew Park to express their concerns over another shelter being built, a location protesters say, is already facing social issues.
The proposed development involves BC Housing, the City of Prince George and Northern Health. It will include 30 affordable, apartment-style housing units, with a range of support services to help break the cycle of homelessness. The idea is to provide a continuum of housing and support services to help people move beyond temporary shelter to secure housing and to gain employment.
But while area residents believe affordable housing and pro-active action is needed for the homeless, their concerns over the repercussions of having the shelter in their neighbourhood outweigh the proposed location.
The potential development was recommended to the Premier’s Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addictions after analysis of potential lands in accordance with the city’s Official Community Plan. This follows a review of recommendations included in the PG Community Plan, developed by the Community Partners Addressing Homelessness which includes city representatives, service providers, agencies, non-profit organizations, as well as government ministries and departments at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
BC housing plans to demolish the abandoned building for safety reasons. Demolition work and site clearance will begin shortly. In the coming weeks they will issue request for qualifications, inviting non-profit societies to submit qualifications to provide the services.