Skip to content

Plans move to next stage for 61-unit supportive-housing project in Abbotsford

Building will replace 40-bed temporary shelter on Riverside Road
A new 61-unit supportive-housing facility next to the Cole Starnes Residence (in photo) on Riverside Road will replace a 40-bed temporary shelter at the location.

A proposal for a new five-storey 61-unit supportive-housing building on Riverside Road has moved to the next stage.

Council on Monday (July 24) unanimously voted in favour of forwarding a development permit for the project to a public hearing at a later date prior to final approval.

The building will be located where two current shelters, operated by Lookout Housing and Health Society, are situated on Riverside near the former Lonzo Road homeless camp.

The site currently contains a 44-unit modular supported transitional-housing facility known as the Cole Starnes building. A 40-bed temporary shelter established in 2015 currently occupies the portion of the lot that will be used for the new building and will be removed.

B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon mentioned the new building when he was in Abbotsford for a press conference on June 13 to address issues occurring at the Lonzo Road homeless encampment.

RELATED: Lonzo Road encampment in Abbotsford to be cleared out and new shelter built

At that time, Kahlon announced that the camp would be cleared out by June 26 and a new 50-bed temporary shelter would be built on the site, replacing the one on Riverside and ready for occupation in late fall.

It is expected to remain in place for about 18 months while a permanent location is found.

Kahlon also referenced that the temporary Riverside shelter would be replaced with a permanent supportive-housing facility.

That plan was first announced by BC Housing in February 2022, saying the new building would provide residents with support services that include daily meals; life-skills training; employment assistance and counselling; physical and mental-health resources; and access to addition treatment and recovery services.

A staff report to council indicates that the 61 units will be self-contained, and the building will include a communal kitchen, dining room, medical room, care spaces, office space, a lounge and a reception area.

A total of 30 per cent of the new units will be accessible for residents with mobility issues.

In conjunction with the application, the city and BC Housing will enter into a housing agreement that outlines the city’s expectations, operator responsibilities, resident expectations and overall facility operations.

The agreement will also ensure that rent levels are tied to the maximum shelter allowance and that “support services are available to ensure residents stay housed.”

The proposed housing agreement will come before council at a later meeting.

RELATED: Plans underway to replace temporary Abbotsford shelter with 40-50 permanent homes

The staff report also indicates that Indigenous collaboration is a key part of the project and is being led by a Coast Salish consultant.

“The early involvement of this consultant in the design phase has resulted in a deeper integration of Coast Salish culture and art embedded into the design of the project which is evident within the site and landscape plans,” the report states.

The Riverside property was previously provided to BC Housing through a no-cost lease for the provision of housing.

Mayor Ross Siemens said the city has a great working relationship with BC Housing.

“We can only achieve some of the challenges and address some of the challenges that we face if we have a partnership, and our role is to provide the zoning and so they’ve stepped up to the plate big-time here and they’ve helped us,” he said.

The initial timeline for the new Riverside Road building saw construction starting in fall 2022 and completion by this summer. No new timeline was provided in the staff report to council.

RELATED: Abbotsford’s Lonzo Road encampment dismantled

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Breaking News You Need To Know

Sign up for a free account today and start receiving our exclusive newsletters.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up

Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
Read more