Smithers council heard from a Smithers Action Group (SAG) delegation last week to address their concerns about limited supported housing in the community and to ask for council’s support for a future housing project.
Joan LeClair, Trevor Brawdy and Toby Coupe from SAG presented a housing plan to council asking for a letter of support for a supported non-profit housing project, a model that would be based on the Portland Housing Societies’ very successful Portland Hotel in Vancouver.
According to LeClair there is virtually no supported housing in Smithers. Although the emergency shelter on Broadway offers an immediate solution for individuals, it is still only temporary. SAG also asked council that once the project moves ahead to the building phase, which could be a couple of years yet, that they could provide SAG with land to construct the facility.
A study conducted in 2005 recognized 215 people living with homelessness in Smithers. That study prompted a more recent document in 2010 that concluded there is a need for a permanent supported housing facility to curb homelessness in the Valley.
“We have at the moment an emergency shelter which is wonderful,” LeClair said. “It’s a great place, great staff there. This building will give people a permanent, stable home where folks can feel it is their home, they have respect, dignity and that allows the people to grow from there and feel grounded and feel safe and secure.”
Smithers Mayor, Taylor Bachrach said the town would definitely consider supporting this type of project. Although it is a long-ways away Bachrach mentioned that this kind of project could address some of the holes within the housing sector in Smithers.
“I think it is a really great way to move forward and fill some of the gaps in our housing in Smithers.” Bachrach said. “Contributing land to these types of projects is one way that the town can help make them a reality. I think it’s in the realm of possibility that we’ll be considering it.”
In other news, the Town of Smithers also re-signed the protocol agreement with the Wet’suwet’en, a move that will continue to strengthen ties with the First Nation band, as the new council move ahead in its first term.
“I was really happy to see that the recommendation was approved,” Bachrach said. “The relationship with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en is one of our most important relationships as a town. And I look forward as mayor to building that relationship over the coming years.”
Council also approved another longstanding issue. The paving of the 4200 Block on Second Ave. has finally received enough resident signatures to move the project ahead.
Residents were successful in getting a majority of property owners to sign the petition, excluding the 4100 black which still has a lot of opposition towards the cost of the project. Council will now bring the issue to the next budget meeting to proceed with funding of the construction.
The 2013 Legacy Project is also moving ahead quickly after Council approved the use of town space on the corner of Broadway and Main for a recommended green space and town square to celebrate the town’s centennial. However, because of its sensitive nature and contamination within the site, council moved to conduct a report on how to proceed with construction and possible clean up on the site.
The final note for council this week was a notice of motion brought forward by Councillor Phil Brienesse The notice of motion was to address Council’s stand on the Northern Gateway Pipeline, or the lack there of. During the election campaign the pipeline became a major issue.
“I think it’s important for something like this that’s going to make an enormous impact potentially on the lives of the people in our community that it becomes a community issue and our town is willing to take a stand on it,” said Brienesse.
Although there was no discussion on the matter this week the motion will be tabled at the Jan. 24 meeting.