The stage is set for a public consultation on the potential relocation of the Quesnel homeless shelter
In a spirited city council meeting on Tuesday night in which a member of the public was removed from the gallery, Quesnel council gave first reading of a zoning amendment that would allow BC Housing to relocate the shelter for the homeless in the Ramada Inn on Saint-Laurent. Street.
Mayor Bob Simpson was quick to point out that this did not represent Council’s decision on the proposal.
“First Reading is simply putting the development on the table for public consultation, discussion and debate, and allowing the public to speak to the Council about that development.
The Council does not begin to lock down the way forward for any development, public or private, until after second reading and especially third reading. Second and third readings will not take place until the public consultation process is complete, and we had a public hearing in this room.
Simpson warned Council that not giving at least a first reading could impact Council’s ability to manage things like the encampments that have been set up along the Riverfront Trail.
“If you listen to the news, one of the problems with local governments is that if there is not enough adequate housing, the courts rule in favor of individuals who squat and set up tents, and set up camps where they want. . The courts make decisions about the adequacy of housing and the sufficiency of supply.
Simpson said the court rulings do not go in favor of local governments, but in favor of individuals who set up camps in communities.
The mayor also noted that many people in the community think the council should just come in and remove them, which is when the meeting had to be paused momentarily until a member of the gallery, who was expressing his feelings out loud, leave.
The vote on the zoning change was not unanimous, Councilor Tony Goulet opposing it.
“I was asking if there would be an explanation on the other four sites that were looked at. This was the 5th site that came up during this process, so just curious to see what those other four sites were, and what they looked like also, so lack of information for me on those other four sites.
Director of Development Services Tanya Turner noted that the proposed site is about three times the size of the current shelter site with significantly more outdoor space.
“This outdoor space is bounded almost entirely by the site’s three buildings and offers more than 45 hotel rooms and common areas, as well as landscaping and fencing. These are considered beneficial in that they will move individuals from shelter-type housing, where they spend the night in the shelter, to permanent housing.
Turner added that BC Housing had issues with the location of the current site at the corner of Highway 97.
She said if the Remada Inn was rezoned, then the zoning for an emergency shelter on the current Carson Avenue site would be removed.
Turner said the city has also committed to BC Housing that the Remada Inn will replace the current site and spaces currently used at the Grace Inn.
BC Housing’s public comment period was also released at the meeting.
Online comments are now open and stakeholder meetings will take place by August 29.
Councilor Ron Paull expressed concern about these dates.
“BC Housing’s public consultation process is taking place entirely during the summer vacation period. I would be in favor of asking, or in fact requiring, that BC Housing extend this public consultation process until the beginning of September, so that we bring people back from the holidays and we are back to school, and that people can really approach this seriously.
Mayor Simpson said Council could determine the sufficiency of public consultation at the time of the public hearing and require the developer to return if necessary, which he said was something they had done in the past.
Council has set the date for the public hearing for September 13 in council chambers at 6 p.m.
BC Housing will present the results of its public consultation to Council at its next meeting on September 6th.