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ACS says alternative site not available for housing proposal

Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) executive director says the organization has not been made aware by Fraser Health of any available facilities or land to use for a proposed low-barrier housing project.

Tonight (Feb. 17), council will decide whether to pass second and third reading of a rezoning proposal that would allow the construction of a low-barrier housing unit for homeless men, or men at risk of homelessness, in the downtown core.

The project's proposed location at 2408 Montvue has been opposed by the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. The groups argue that the zoning in the downtown area specifically prohibits supportive housing, unlike other regions of the city.

ACS issued a press release in response to several inquiries about the old MSA Hospital site as a potential alternative location for the low-barrier housing project, stating that they are not aware of any available land.

Earlier this month, Fraser Health announced a proposal to build a seniors campus of care and a community health centre on the former MSA Hospital site on McCallum Road.

Rod Santiago, executive director, said that ACS did, "in partnership with the City, look at several alternative locations, none of which were viable. Had this location been brought to us as a potential alternative, we also would have looked at it."

Santiago said that funding from BC Housing is for the currently proposed location in the downtown.

"Even if the old MSA Hospital site was to suddenly present itself, the time, energy, and cost associated with vetting that location would be lengthy and complex, and by then the funding currently available to us will no longer be here.”

Santiago said that he is hopeful that "the large showing from the greater community at the public hearing, coupled with clarifying that there are no alternative locations, will serve as key factors that will lead to a favourable decision not just for ACS, but also the men who will benefit from this facility.”

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