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Supportive housing modules housed on Main Street

Modular units that will make up supportive housing building will be staged at LB Warner Centre.
A map of the proposed staging area at the LB Warner Centre included in Director of Development Services Mark Allen’s letter of recommendation. Contributed

Prior to its construction this fall, the modular units that will make up the future supportive housing building at 3896 Railway Avenue will be staged at the LB Warner Centre at 1621 Main Street.

At a July 10 meeting, Smithers Town council considered the recommendation of director of development services Mark Allen to allow Nomodic, the design-build company in charge of the building’s construction, to sign a lease agreement for $1/month.

“I think [Nomodic] assumed that the site was large enough to have a staging area for the units, or that it was readily available along Railway Avenue … That was before they visited the site in June, a couple of weeks ago. Then it became clear that they needed to seek other options. They did look at the secure sites on Tatlow Road that are currently available for profit, and the problem with those is, I think, they wanted a longer-term lease, more than six months even,” Allen explained.

The term of the lease is July 30 – Sept. 30.

“I appreciate Mr. Allen’s work on this, and I appreciate that he’s found a solution for us. It’s a project that’s important to council. But, essentially, we’re giving a private company a slide on not having done their homework,” said Councillor Frank Wray.

“B.C. Housing has several other projects that have been completed, or may be completed in the future, and I don’t want to set this precedent that we’re just going to let things slide like this because it’s a government project.”

Allen said the LB Warner site was attractive to Nomodic due to its security. His report assures council that the proposed 20,000-square-foot area Nomodic requires will not interfere with Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue or Town storage nearby.

“On the interior they would look after additional fencing for securing the units. We did discuss with the Gymnastics Club about locking the gate after their programs are completed, and that’s not an issue for the club. I think that was the one problem with the other sites, such as Heritage Park. It just wasn’t secure enough for the company,” he explained.

The recommendation was approved with Councillor Wray opposed.

According to Allen, the 20 units will be transported from the staging area via low-bed trucks, with the preferred routes being Queen or Toronto Street.

“They’re basically coming as 12-by-60-foot modular units, and they will be low-bedded into the site, and then they will be craned … they’ll be directly lifted from the low-beds onto their final resting spot.”

The project arose from B.C. Housing’s Rapid Response to Homelessness program, and occupancy is scheduled for November of this year.