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Mayor Wells says new supportive housing plan saw better co-operation

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Mayor Bob Wells says communication has improved between the city and the province about supportive housing.

The mayor told the Record the city was much more involved this time in decisions to buy land for supportive housing in Courtenay. The announcement last week that BC Housing bought land at 925 Braidwood Ave. flowed from better teamwork, he said, compared to last year when the province purchased the former Super 8 hotel.

“There has been a real shift in communication between us and BC Housing,” said Wells. “For the last year it was like everybody was rowing together.”

Spokesperson for BC Housing Shrief Fadl shared the same notion, and said work has been busy. They “met with city staff on a weekly basis and shared over 50 properties … during this thorough process,” he said.

“The property at 925 Braidwood Ave. was chosen after consultation and review with community partners and city staff, who agreed that this location was suitable for a new purpose-built shelter.”

RELATED: BC Housing purchases land in Courtenay for supportive housing and shelter

Previous teamwork between city and province had hiccups

Wells spoke critically in 2023 when the province purchased the former Super 8 hotel. He said the province had all but skipped consultation with Courtenay leaders when it bought the hotel and planned to rezone it for supportive housing.

“Our community wants to be an engaged partner,” Wells said at the time. “We also recognize that as the senior level of government, the province, through BC Housing, can proceed under its own authority, which includes bypassing any city process or community expectations.”

RELATED: Courtenay Super 8 motel being purchased for supportive housing needs

Wells at the time said council would make it a priority to find a better partnership with B.C. that respects Courtenay voices and solves the housing issue.

Courtenay leaders have since reached a milestone as last week’s announcement from the province is a $4 million commitment to bring a designated supportive housing facility to town.

RELATED: Six months after opening, neighbours discuss Courtenay’s BC Housing shelter

Wells added that despite being initially upset in 2023 about the purchase of the former Super 8, he has been impressed by the success of B.C. Housing’s facility. He said the results of the project built trust.

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