CITY HALL this week is being flooded with correspondence both for and against the rezoning of an empty office building on Lazelle Ave. in downtown Terrace so that it can be turned into a homeless shelter and house other services.
Opposition to the rezoning request on the part of the Ksan House Society so that it could use the former Northern Drugs headquarters between Terrace Interiors and Canada Post for a shelter began growing last week but those in favour began contacting city hall this week.
Council is to consider the request to rezone the property from a commercial use to a public and institutional use at a hearing to be held next Monday, April 11.
The Ksan plan is to run a homeless shelter at the Lazelle Ave. building during the colder weather months and, provided financing is found, offer other services year round.
It has an accepted offer to purchase the building subject to a successful rezoning.
In a report to council to be considered at the April 11 hearing, city staffers support a downtown location for a facility as being proposed by Ksan, citing that such a facility should be accessible to those who would use it.
They noted that the society had been using the All Nations Centre on the corner of Sparks and Davis close to downtown for its overnight cold weather shelter for the past two years while it searched for a permanent location.
The All Nations Centre, owned by the Bread of Life Society which is affiliated with the Seventh Day Adventist Church, “is currently shared between agencies and programs and does not provide the amenities needed for Ksan’s shelter,” the report stated.
“Staff recognizes that the proposed location would need to be carefully and properly managed to achieve the combined objective of serving the needs of these individuals in our community and maintaining a downtown core in which all residents feel safe,” the report continued.
As of yesterday, city hall had four letters opposing the rezoning because of the shelter’s proposed location in a commercial area and 110 signed form letters in support.
A petition opposing the rezoning has also been circulating.
Meanwhile, a group of downtown merchants and others have now come up with the idea of pursuing an alternative location for a shelter.
The idea came out of a meeting of the Terrace Downtown Improvement Associaton and others earlier this week.
Association director Sasa Loggin said the consensus was that a shelter is a good idea but that having it downtown would perpetuate the homeless presence there.
“It’s a very costly proposition,” said Loggin of Ksan’s plan to purchase the former Northern Drugs building which has a listed sales price of $479,900, adding that renovations for amenities such as washrooms and showers would be expensive.
One suggested alternate location is that of a residence containing two suites which is located right across the street from the All Nations Centre and which is for sale.
Loggin said improvement association members seemed to think it would make a cheaper choice of location and the fact that it has two floors means that it could have multiple uses.
Ultimately, according to Loggin, the association thinks the rezoning application was happening too quickly and that more time is needed to make sure the right location for a new shelter is chosen.
The Ksan society does have one emergency shelter already which is located at its Hall St. complex on the southside.
But it does not allow people in who have been drinking, something that a cold weather shelter does permit provided they surrender any alcoholic beverages at the door. For that reason a cold weather shelter is often referred to as a “damp” shelter.