Members of the Abbotsford Dignitarian Society, a local group focused on helping the homeless, presented their plans for a transitional housing site in Abbotsford to the city’s task force on homelessness on Thursday.
Jeff Gruban, a group member, said they hope to create a pilot project on Valley Road, off the Abbotsford-Mission Highway, on a piece of private property.
The site would feature small shelters – with a plan to begin with 10 residents – and the group hopes to include community gardens, communal spaces and laundry and washroom facilities.
The plans also include an on-site caretaker.
Gruban said the project would be low-barrier, meaning those with mental health or substance issues would be welcomed, but the residents would also have to abide by rules that the society would lay out.
Paul MacLeod, a member of the society, said there would not be a limit on length of stay for the residents but he said they are hoping that a low-barrier housing project will be built in Abbotsford, “so we would have a step two.”
He added that the project is “not a permanent place” for residents and the goal would be to eventually move people into more stable housing.
Gruban said many community groups have pledged to support the project in various ways, but added they are hoping the city will support the project, as they believe it would require a temporary use permit, as well as city-provided water and sewer.
Concerns were raised by task force members, including security, safety and the risk of flooding on the site.
City manager George Murray said the group can begin a pre-application review meeting where police, fire and bylaw and planning services could talk about the details of the process and see if it meets requirements of provincial legislation for temporary use permits and municipal legislation.
The group has launched a website, www.abbotsfordhomeless.com, with more information.
For more on this story see next week’s edition of the Abbotsford News.