A homeless shelter proposed on Cliffe Avenue across from Courtenay City Hall has been lauded by frontline workers but criticized by area businesses and some members of council.
In the summer, council voted 4-3 in favour of former Coun. Murray Presley’s motion to ask the regional district to find a “more suitable” location than the 800 block of Cliffe Avenue. Then councillor and now mayor Larry Jangula and Couns. Manno Theos and Jon Ambler supported the motion while then-mayor Greg Phelps and Couns. Doug Hillian and Ronna-Rae Leonard opposed it. The CVRD board denied the request.
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. Jangula has suggested the area around Chuck’s Trucks at 180 Old Island Hwy. is a more suitable location.
Courtenay council voted late in the year to consider other possible locations for a homeless shelter.
The issue of homelessness extends to the Maple Pool Campsite between the Tsolum River and Headquarters Road where owners Dali and Jin Lin operate a Community Living Project for 54 low-income earners, seniors, disabled individuals and the homeless. The couple is concerned the tenants are facing eviction because the City of Courtenay has initiated legal action. The issue is non-compliance with a zoning bylaw.
“They’re allowing occupancy, in many cases permanent occupancy, in the floodplain,” CAO Sandy Gray said. “The City has been doing its best to work with the property owners to get them to comply.”
Council granted the Lins a six-month extension to deal with the situation, but Gray said the couple has not forwarded information suggesting ways to rectify the situation.
Dali said he has twice put in a proposal but has not received a response from the City.
“We have a tenant that lived here over 30 years,” said Dali, who feels the city has overstated the flood issue.
Gray said the question of occupancy at Maple Pool is a separate issue through which the city has tried to work “with limited success” with social agencies and the Lins.
“That’s an issue the property owners have with their tenants; it’s not a City issue,” Gray said. “Some people are trying to colour the issue by having that as the focal point. The focal point is they’re not in conformance with zoning.”
Advocates say the city deals with flood liability when rezoning properties and issuing building permits by having owners sign a release.
They also say the city has no capacity to absorb the Maple Pool tenants if they are evicted.