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Council backtracks on support for homeless shelter move

Coun. Cordeiro proposes land swap with Ksan Society following opposition to new location
The Ksan Society is moving its Turning Points shelter from Lakelse Ave. location to the old Elks Hall property on the southside. (Staff photo)

A city council resolution passed at its Sept. 26 meeting to find a “suitable location” for a Ksan Society homeless shelter crafted in the face of considerable opposition from neighbours of where Ksan wants to place the shelter, was missing one important piece of information — council has already provided the society with a letter of support for the plan.

Council agreed to the letter in early August when Ksan Society executive director Amanda Owens met with council to discuss the society’s purchase of the old Elks Hall property on Hall St. on the southside.

READ MORE: Ksan moving ahead with plan to move homeless shelter

Owens asked for and received the letter which then formed part of the application made by Ksan to a Northern Development Initiative Trust program that can provide up to $500,000 for community projects.

The money is needed so Ksan can renovate the hall, transforming it into a new home for its 20-bed Turning Points ‘damp’ shelter now on Lakelse Ave. in the downtown core.

There was no discussion at that August meeting of the impact Turning Points might have on the surrounding properties but Councillor James Cordeiro did ask what plans Ksan had for security and if those provisions would be similar to the situation at the shelter’s current Lakelse Ave. location where private security employees are now routinely stationed.

Owens reassured Cordeiro by saying Ksan would incorporate patrols with the society’s other housing and services complex two blocks east on Hall St.

READ MORE: City cuts cameras, calls police amid homeless shelter debate

“We actually want security to monitor that two-block radius because we don’t want any incidents happening between those two blocks and with any of the residential areas,” said Owens at the August meeting.

Council was also told in August that a shelter would fit the old Elks Hall property’s zoning.

It was both the effects of moving Turning Points and zoning that formed the core of a presentation by Kyle de Medeiros to council of a 372-name petition and supporting letters at the Sept. 26 council meeting.

Putting Turning Points on Tetrault would compound current anti-social and other behaviour around Ksan’s Hall St. residence and shelter which also spills out to the broader southside area, he said.

de Medeiros also challenged the city’s zoning interpretation.

Council’s discussion of de Medeiros’ presentation resulted in a motion sponsored by Cordeiro that does not specifically mention Ksan, but the intent is clear: “that administration facilitate a multi-agency discussion to determine a suitable location within the City of Terrace to provide the necessary services people need with minimal impacts on surrounding neighbourhoods, and to determine if new zoning for such a location would be appropriate.”

Councillor Sean Bujtas (currently mayor-elect) conceded the motion could not prevent Ksan from proceeding.

“This is not stopping the shelter from moving forward,” he said. “It’s zoned appropriately. We have no authority to do that.”

Cordeiro did suggest, during the council discussion of the motion, that the city could play a “strategic role” regarding the old Elks Hall property by proposing a swap for another piece of land acquired by the city.

He’s the chair of a Kitimat-Stikine regional district committee that’s working with local doctors on a plan for a detox and rehabilitation centre.

Because the hall is located right across the street from the new Mills Memorial Hospital now under construction, “the Elks property at some point might be a good candidate for that facility,” he said.

Whether there’s the potential for a land swap or not could be a moot point now that Ksan has announced it is moving ahead with renovations to the old Elks Hall.

READ MORE: Ksan shelter move awaits word on renovation grant

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About the Author: Rod Link

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