News

'Win-win' proposal for downtown Courtenay homeless shelter property deferred

The Comox Valley Regional District committee of the whole has again deferred a request from Det Kunz, owner of the building at 841 Cliffe Ave. who wants to purchase a portion of the adjacent property targeted for an emergency homeless shelter/supportive housing unit.
Kunz, addressing the committee Tuesday, said a 20-foot strip at 865 Cliffe Ave. would generate 15 parking stalls and provide a buffer between his building and the yet-to-be-constructed shelter across the street from Courtenay City Hall.
"I think it would be a benefit to the downtown," Kunz said, noting the parking situation is inadequate at his building that contains John's Bedroom Barn & Foam Warehouse. Shoppers Drug Mart, located behind his building, does not contain ample parking, he added. "It would be a win-win situation for us. I think we need to keep the downtown vibrant."
The 20-foot strip is about 2,500 square feet, about half the width of 865 Cliffe. The CVRD suggests it could be sold for $75,000.
The matter was first considered last spring when it was referred to a committee meeting in September. By then, the City of Courtenay had initiated its own search for shelter/supportive housing property.
On Tuesday, the committee approved a motion from Courtenay director Starr Winchester to defer Kunz' request until the June 12 committee meeting.
A motion from Cumberland director Gwyn Sproule to sell the entire parcel, as opposed to leasing part of the property, was not seconded.
Sproule noted Courtenay had initiated a homelessness task force. The CVRD board, she added, has recognized that most of the homeless are in Courtenay and that homelessness is a district-wide issue.
"Now Courtenay wants to go in a different direction," Sproule said.
At a recent council meeting Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula — a member of the previous CVRD board who has been opposed to the proposed shelter location since the district acquired the trio of lots in the 800 block of Cliffe — forwarded a resolution to direct staff to initiate an amendment of the Commercial One Zone, which includes the property in question, to ensure homeless shelters are not permitted within a specified area of the downtown core. Council instead directed staff to report back about C-1 zoning uses and definitions.
The CVRD does not have a mandate to construct or operate a shelter. The board is looking to BC Housing for guidance, capital and operating funds. The latter might request assistance from local governments to select a facility operator and to identify services.
BC Housing might soon be in a position to provide project funding, a staff report states. If approved, this would lead to a facility operator being selected.
More information about housing and homelessness is at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/homelessness.
reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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