A supportive housing project that has drawn criticism from some of the neighbourhood will proceed at 988 Eighth St. in Courtenay.
At Monday’s meeting, council unanimously approved a zoning amendment to allow 46 modular homes on the City-owned land near the Kiwanis Village for seniors. The project will include 24/7 services to support homeless individuals.
At a public hearing last month, several Kiwanis residents said the project would exacerbate an already troubling situation in terms of drug activity and aggressive behaviour, considering the proximity of the Salvation Army shelter on Pidcock Avenue and the Comox Valley Recovery Centre. They feel supportive housing projects should be dispersed throughout the city, not concentrated in their neighbourhood. Those opposed have criticized the process, saying the City has expedited the project without proper consultation. Some also noted the need for a through-road in the village.
“I have some sympathy to those concerns,” Coun. Doug Hillian said. “I do think it’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to provide a longer time frame for people to digest this significant change to their neighbourhood.”
The provincial government and BC Housing are partnering with the City. The John Howard Society of North Island will operate the housing and provide the services. Each home will include a private bathroom and kitchen. Residents will have access to shared amenities such as laundry.
Hillian hopes the agencies involved will build a relationship with the neighbourhood.
“I believe the residents are entitled to know who they’re dealing with,” Hillian said. “We’re asking a tremendous amount of this neighbourhood, but the reality is that the City does not own unlimited amounts of land. There’s specific pieces of land that the City owns, and council came to the decision that this particular piece of land was the most suitable. I think it’s safe to say that this particular piece of land far outweighed any other possibilities that we had available to make the project happen.”
While there’s a “crying need” locally to house the chronically homeless, Hillian said the ongoing issues in the neighbourhood need to be addressed, considering what the City is asking of residents.
Mayor Larry Jangula was absent Monday.