Two binder full of letters of support were dropped of at City Hall by representatives from Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) on Thursday, Oct. 17, hoping to illustrate to the city the community support for the organization’s proposed supportive housing project.
Janna Dieleman, manager of donor and community relations at ACS, dropped of the letters and said they show the level of support for the proposal.
“Our intent in compiling these binders was to give mayor and council the opportunity to review all the comments from the community in a single concise format. Many of the letters we received at our office came in the form of hand written notes and some in the body of emails.”
“We just wanted to be sure that everything we received also got through to mayor and council.”
The project, which would build a low-barrier housing project for homeless men at 2408 Montvue Ave with funding from BC Housing, has been controversial since it was announced in June.
Some business owners and residents in the downtown core, as well as the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association, object to the project because it would require the city to change the zoning for the site, which currently prohibits supportive housing. Some groups, such as the Abbotsford Chamber, have suggested looking for an alternate location, but one has yet to be identified.
Organizations like MCC, the Abbotsford Community Foundation, Vancity Community Foundation as well as many businesses, doctors and private individuals have expressed their support for this project, said Dieleman.
Dieleman noted that “one letter writer encourages the business community in the downtown corridor to move beyond the ‘not in my neighborhood’ approach and help to change the conversation about how Abbotsford responds to the housing needs of our most vulnerable population.”
Abbotsford Community Services submitted the re-zoning application to City Hall on April 19, 2013.
ACS is still waiting to find out when their rezoning application will come before council as part of the public hearing process.
“At that time we will be encouraging our supporters to come and speak on behalf of this proposal.”
At city council on Monday, Coun. Patricia Ross asked staff when the project will come to council for discussion.
Coun. Henry Braun said it may be time to bring the project forward for discussion, adding that he has the impression that BC Housing cannot wait forever before it will take the funding elsewhere, and council should decide on the project either way.
City manager George Murray said staff are looking to confirm the timing to bring forward ACS’s rezoning application and he believes the application could proceed to a council meeting in late November or early December.