The latest effort by the Ksan House Society to buy a downtown building and then use it as a homeless shelter is drawing opposition from residents of a nearby senior citizens housing project.
In a letter sent last week to city council, the board of the 64-unit Twin River Estates complex said its residents would feel intimidated if they had to pass the McRae building at 4444 Lakelse Ave. which Ksan wishes to buy.
Twin River Estates is located just east and up a side street from the McRae building and its residents travel along Lakelse on foot, in wheelchairs or on scooters to the downtown area and to activities at the Happy Gang Centre on Kalum, the letter indicated. (See full letter below).
“Many of these people already feel vulnerable and throughout town have had encounters that have left them feeling intimidated and frightened,” stated the letter.
“Opening such a facility on their main access to town has had an emotional response for the members of our society that use that route.”
“While no one debates the necessity of having a damp homeless shelter, it is our view that the location on the main street of our city is ill-advised,” the letter continued.
Speaking after the letter was sent, Twin River Society president Ron Earl said while Ksan spoke with businesses neighbouring the building it wishes to buy, it did not speak with Twin River residents, something he said may have helped to deal with worries Twin River residents might have.
“That might have least made our residents feel just a bit better,” he said.
Earl’s also been told by city officials that because the McRae building’s current zoning will permit operation of a shelter, city council won’t discuss the matter with Twin River residents.
“But at least we thought they would hear what we had to say,” Earl continued, adding that Twin River is a major municipal taxpayer.
He said Lakelse is the only route for Twin River residents to get up town as other routes involve hills which are not easily navigated by people in wheelchairs or scooters especially in rainy or winter periods.
Earl added he’s also been trying to contact Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin.
City official Brian Doddridge confirmed that the Twin River letter won’t be on a council meeting agenda because the McRae building is already appropriately zoned.
But he did say the letter has been provided to the mayor and council for their information.
An earlier attempt by Ksan to buy a building on Lazelle Ave. downtown met with local resistance and council ultimately turned down a rezoning request.
That renewed a search for a location, leading to the purchase of the McRae building.
An open letter to
Mayor Carol Leclerc
and Council, City of Terrace
Dear Mayor and Council:
We, the board at Twin River Estates, would like to bring forward our concerns about the proposed damp homeless shelter at 4444 Lakelse Avenue.
The route down Lakelse Avenue is the main access into town for many of the residents at Twin River Estates. It is the safest wheelchair, walking and scooter route for our seniors to go to town or to their activities at the Happy Gang Centre.
Many of these people already feel vulnerable and throughout town have had encounters that have left them feeling intimidated and frightened.
Opening such a facility on their main access to the downtown has had an emotional response for the members of our society that use that route.
Much lip-service is paid to promoting healthy aging programs and placing such a facility in this location is in contravention to the independence and well-being of many of the residents at Twin River Estates.
All of the residents at Twin River Estates are taxpayers and are not subsidized by the government.
Thus, there is resentment that Ksan Society would notify the businesses nearby but exclude a complex of 64 units of senior citizens who live half a block away.
They have had no part in the discussion or any input as to other options.
While no one debates the necessity of having a damp homeless shelter, it is our view that location on the main street of our city is ill-advised.
Although we understand that all of you have wrestled with the problem of such a facility for some time, we urge that the City of Terrace actively discourage a main street location for a damp homeless shelter.
On behalf of the residents of Twin River Estates Board of Directors,
Ron Earl, Nelson Rollier, Ellen Smith, Arnold Prosser, Judith Appler, Robert Leclerc, Cecile Lechasseur, Betty Hamilton.