Northwest Community College is placing temporary student housing modules on Mountainview Drive to accommodate international Business students in Smithers. Contributed photo

Smithers college housing approved

Temporary college housing requires sidewalk be built.

Twenty college students will be moving to Smithers once temporary housing modules are moved in between Walnut Elementary School and the Pioneer Activity Centre on Mountainview Drive.

The hope is to have the housing up and running before business classes start May 7. This is the first time the classes would run in Smithers, and Northwest Community College (NWCC) staff previously said at a Smithers District Chamber of Commerce luncheon that it is only possible with the recruitment of international students.

NWCC communications director Sarah Zimmerman said they are still in the “planning and permitting process.”

Council unanimously approved a temporary use permit for the Mountainview Drive location. Another proposed location at 3873 Fourth Avenue was not approved.

Council also denied a request to waive any off-site works required, including a sidewalk, curb and boulevard. So the college or property owner will be on the hook as the college temporarily leases the land. The street is currently one-way and pedestrians have the side of the road separated by concrete barricades to walk on.

Only Coun. Frank Wray opposed the motion enforcing the requirement.

Regional director Regina Saimoto was at the Smithers council in March to explain what the housing would be like. She was there because a public hearing notice was sent out to neighbours in error.

Public hearings are not required for temporary use permits. This permit is valid for three years and can be renewed once for another three years if approved again.

Saimoto addressed at the meeting concerns residents nearby may have.

“We will have a resident advisor that will be onsite with the students,” she explained.

The position was described as a liaison between staff and students.

“We also will have some security measures onsite. And the experience that we’ve had with international students of the demographic that are attracted to this site has been very good at our other sites in Terrace and in Prince Rupert,” continued Saimoto.

Mayor Taylor Bachrach mentioned that the college does plan to have more permanent housing by the time the three-year permit is up.

Zimmerman said more information may become available this week.

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