Extra storey, 10 beds added to supportive housing project for men

Gladys Avenue building will now have 30 units

The site where the housing project will be built on Gladys Avenue

The site where the housing project will be built on Gladys Avenue

An extra floor and 10 more beds will be added to the low-barrier supportive housing project planned for Gladys Avenue.

The new fourth storey expands the project from 20 to 30 housing units, according to BC Housing.

As a “low-barrier” facility, the project will provide housing to men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including those with active addictions to drugs or alcohol. Staff from Abbotsford Community Services will provide treatment and support services within the building.

Jenny Lee-Leugner, a spokesperson for BC Housing, said the bed count was expanded because “the province, in partnership with the city, determined that adding additional units to this project would be a timely and cost-effective solution to serving community.”

Lee-Leugner said the building’s capital budget will likely increase, though she didn’t release how much more will be spent. Funding of $2.4 million will be provided by BC Housing, a Crown corporation that provides housing support for vulnerable British Columbians. The project is being managed collaboratively by BC Housing, the City of Abbotsford, and Abbotsford Community Services. It is expected to be completed in 2017.

The three partners recently signed a contract with Mierau Contractors Ltd. to build the structure.

Janna Dieleman, community relations manager for Abbotsford Community Services, said the increase in units will likely require increased staffing from ACS, though specifics are not yet available.

New expanded plans for the building were presented to nearby residents and business owners at information sessions on Oct. 10 and Oct. 13. Dieleman said reactions from the community were mixed.

“A few might’ve been a little bit adversarial at the beginning but [later] they were much more amenable to hear what we had to say,” she said.

Lynn Perrin, one of the project’s neighbours, was unhappy with what she sees as a lack of consultation about the project’s expansion.

Perrin said she didn’t feel opponents were heard at the recent information sessions, and is worried the facility will bring street drug sales into the area.

“The level of disrespect by all three parties towards directly affected neighbours at this stage of the project tells me that after the facility is open there will be even more [disrespect],” Perrin wrote in a letter to Abbotsford council.