Abbotsford council is looking at amending its zoning bylaw to allow emergency response shelters in all zones during a provincial state of emergency.
The only exemption is where agriculture is a permitted use and not on property in the Agriculture Land Reserve.
Council have the first two readings to the bylaw amendment at its executive meeting on April 26.
The city’s current zoning bylaw only permits an accessory emergency shelter at Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church.
The approval of any additional emergency shelters has been handled on a case-by-case basis.
But the pandemic has necessitated more such shelters to accommodate those for whom there is no space in existing housing projects due to COVID-19 protocols, such as adequate distancing between individuals.
Coun. Ross Siemens said many people have been asking what will happen to individuals in emergency shelters when the pandemic is over.
“I think the majority of folks that are housed here will probably go back to some of the housing projects that are in place, but we are advocating with BC Housing for more,” he said.
An opportunity for public input will now be scheduled, in lieu of a public hearing, which cannot be held in person due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Before the bylaw is adopted, it requires consultation with medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and approval from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.