Homeless shelter proposal on regional district agenda Tuesday

A motion from Courtenay council to consider reopening the search for a homeless shelter site is on the Comox Valley Regional District's committee of the whole agenda Tuesday, beginning at 4 p.m.
Last week in a 4-3 vote, City council passed a Murray Presley motion to ask the district to look for a "more suitable" location than the 800 block of Cliffe Avenue. Couns. Larry Jangula, Manno Theos and Jon Ambler supported the motion while Mayor Greg Phelps and Couns. Doug Hillian and Ronna-Rae Leonard opposed it.
Earlier this year the district purchased a trio of adjoining lots at 865, 877 and 889 Cliffe Ave. for $470,000 to house a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency shelter.
As far as Presley knows, the purchase does not come with an opt-out clause.
"The question here is this the best site available or are there better and possibly cheaper sites available," said Presley, a CVRD director. "The CVRD can always turn around and resell the site if a better site became available."
The proposed shelter location has been lauded by frontline workers with the homeless but criticized by area businesses. Jangula has suggested the area around Chuck's Trucks at 180 Old Island Hwy. is a more suitable location.
Last year, the CVRD issued a call for interest from property owners with land to sell that met criteria for an emergency shelter and supportive housing. It received three submissions that CitySpaces Consulting evaluated against criteria such as proximity to social service agencies, transit, project costs and available funds.
The properties at Cliffe Avenue were deemed the best fit, beating out a submission from a property on Cumberland Road, which the district says is not in the core area of town. The other property owner who submitted did not want details released.
Cunningham & Rivard Appraisals of Nanaimo estimated the Cliffe Avenue property's market value at $470,000 as of last August. According to information provided by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, the sites were jointly listed in August, 2009 for $690,000.
The CVRD would look to BC Housing or another funding agency to provide capital and operating dollars.
According to the district, land purchase negotiations are conducted in private to mitigate the possibility of a bidding war that could drive up the price.

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