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Motion to reconsider downtown Courtenay homeless shelter site postponed

Coun. Murray Presley wants the site of a proposed homeless shelter on Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay to be reconsidered, but council will wait to discuss the issue.

"The issue of housing for the homeless is and should be a continuing concern for the city and the Valley," he said Monday. "I know everybody on this council, and I'm sure I speak for all the elected officials in the Valley, wants to address the problem; the only difference among us is how we do that."

Presley brought forward a resolution to council Monday resolving that the city ask the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) to reopen the search for a more suitable site for the proposed homeless shelter.

"The City of Courtenay, however, does reconfirm that it fully supports assistance for the homeless but questions the location of this site," it stated.

The CVRD has acquired a site at 865 Cliffe Ave., and in his resolution, Presley noted that there have been "significant" concerns about that site as a suitable location for a homeless shelter and that the immediate neighbours have not been contacted as to their concerns about the site.

Presley's resolution reads that, "the site is a high-profile site and one of the entrances to the downtown core and such a site should enhance the entranceway, not possibly detract from the downtown core" and "the surrounding business community will pay more than its fair share of property taxes towards the site but was not consulted on that site."

It also states that, "The site location process was restrictive and virtually unknown, and only three possible sites were chosen and only two recommended. The limited number of sites should have required a more open and inclusive invitation from the public."

Presley noted that it has been suggested that he defer or withdraw his motion because elected officials are going to visit shelters in other communities later this week, and representatives from the Salvation Army or the Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society may address council on this issue.

"After reviewing these concerns, I'm of the opinion that either of the above items, which I think we should continue with, does not take away from my motion and the reasons for it, so I'm going ahead," he said.

Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard suggested council postpone the motion until council's next meeting following tours of shelters in Duncan and Nanaimo planned for this Thursday. Mayor Greg Phelps and Couns. Jon Ambler and Doug Hillian agreed, and the motion was postponed.

In a related item, Leonard tried to include a late resolution on the agenda that would resolve that Phelps and City staff meet with representatives of BC Housing and the CVRD on July 15.

A representative from BC Housing will be available to meet in Courtenay on July 15, and a development agreement is required to be finalized between BC Housing, the City of Courtenay and the CVRD to advance any provincial funds, including project development funds, to support the building of a shelter/supportive housing in Courtenay, Leonard noted in her proposed resolution.

Councillors were not unanimous in allowing consideration of the resolution, but that does not stop a meeting from taking place.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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