Patti MacAhonic, ADTS executive director, said she was beyond disappointed after council voted against the winter housing proposal at Five Corners vowing to seek another site. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Patti MacAhonic, ADTS executive director, said she was beyond disappointed after council voted against the winter housing proposal at Five Corners vowing to seek another site. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Shelter idea for Chilliwack gets rough ride in central location

Proposal nixed for emegency winter response housing for Chilliwack women at Five Corners

Great project but wrong location.

There was no appetite at city hall Tuesday to allow an emergency 20-bed winter shelter/housing project for women at the highly visible location of Five Corners.

Many said they strongly supported the work done by Ann Davis Transition Society in Chilliwack, but not at the proposed site on Yale Road at Young.

After much debate, council voted unanimously against issuing a temporary use permit (TUP) for a six-month Winter Housing project proposed by ADTS.

Several speakers were in favour.

Coletta Holmes of the Chilliwack and District Seniors Resources Centre, who lives and works downtown, said she was there to speak in support. Senior women on their own are often at higher risk of insecure housing situations, largely due to gender inequality, she said.

“I don’t feel that what I see downtown is going to change any time soon,” said Holmes. “So the only chance we see is having more services there, so someone in crisis can be quickly redirected. It’s not going away.”

Amelia Roberts of Tzeachten said she was in support, reminding the crowd, “they’re human beings” who need help. Roberts said she was glad people “were proud of their businesses” but the need for shelter was great downtown since so much low-income housing was torn down.

Some business owners, including those who live and work downtown, were livid about the proposal.

Twyla Johnson spoke against the location, reading a letter by the owner of the building being renovated at Young Road and Princess Avenue, next to the proposed shelter.

“We feel so strongly about this being an inappropriate location that we will more than likely cease our renovation and move to a new location, if this is approved,” she said.

Several said the business community can’t handle the impact of another social service provider setting up downtown.

BIA executive director Kyle Williams said it would be a “step backward” given the substantial resources invested in property, security, events and more.

“We also know that a temporary housing service is an urgent need as the colder months approach,” BIA president Alvin Bartel wrote in a letter to council on the proposal. “We feel very strongly, however, that the proposed downtown location is not an appropriate one, and urge that all parties involved endeavour to find a location outside of the downtown commercial core.”

Business owner Cameron Hull said he had “serious concerns” about the location, not ADTS. He said he could not support allowing a women’s shelter where the “wolves” are, downtown.

“As a shepherd we don’t lead our sheep to wolves,” he said.

In Vedder they have “zero services” for the homeless.

“This neighbourhood has done enough,” Hull said about downtown.

Patti MacAhonic, executive director of ADTS, said she was “beyond disappointed,” by the decision, since the shelter had already received funding confirmation, and the need was so critical.

She said they are hoping to hear better news soon.

“I understand that people are concerned,” said MacAhonic during the hearing, adding that the shelter would be a “hybrid,” where they would stay in the housing, some for 30 days, and not have to leave every morning.

The urgent need is getting them off the streets.

“This is about safety for my staff, and the clients we serve.”

They run a “tight ship” at ADTS, with an established track record, the expertise and support to pull it off, she said.

“We are good at this, and it will help women get connected with services,” she said.

The goal was “getting women stabilized” for the winter, and then looking to a more long-term solution in a new facility, said the ADTS rep.

MORE: Shelter/housing hybrid

They had 14 letters of support, sent by email, but Mayor Sharon Gaetz said they did not have a record of having received that many.

Mayor Gaetz said many critics were asking the city why the downtown was being proposed.

“We looked high and low for other locations, and could not find one,” said MacAhonic.

Mayor Gaetz asked MacAhonic if she had approached the neighbours around the proposed location.

“We ask that you get the support of the neighbours, to have that buy-in. Otherwise it pits neighbour against neighbour,” said Gaetz. “This is a very unusual TUP application.”

It was a tough call for Coun. Sam Waddington.

“We’re in an impossible situation,” he said, about council’s position, adding it was the “right project, wrong location.”

Mayor Gaetz said council had heard “loud and clear” from the community, which was feeling the stress and pressure from increased homelessness and visible addiction.

“I think we can do better,” she said, advising the applicant to “meet with the neighbours” once another locale is in sight, and gather support if a new application is to be forthcoming.

“We certainly don’t want to see this funding go by the wayside,” said Gaetz.

Coun. Sue Attrill’s message was “great organization but wrong location,” and “All I can say is don’t give up.”’

But “no one wants this in their neighbourhood,” said MacAhonic. “Everyone wants to help, but not if it’s next to them.”

She had secured funding for staffing, security and renovations the building.

Since the shelter TUP was turned down by council at the end of the meeting, ADTS reps will likely be seeking another location to apply once again.

Coun. Jason Lum wondered if there were any city-owned properties that could be considered, the way they did when Cyrus Centre needed a location.

“I am a little worried about the timing,” he said, asking if staff could help in seeking another location.

Coun. Ken Popove said there are more good things coming for Chilliwack. He was happy to hear of support from neighbouring First Nations and hopes that will be an avenue that can be explored further.

“Our work is not done yet,” he said.


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress                                Kyle Williams, executive director of the Downtown Chilliwack BIA, talked at the ADTS TUP hearing about the pressures faced by local businesses from dealing with social issues.

Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress Kyle Williams, executive director of the Downtown Chilliwack BIA, talked at the ADTS TUP hearing about the pressures faced by local businesses from dealing with social issues.

Just Posted

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat greets fans outside of the Abbotsford Centre prior to the Canucks exhibition game against the Ottawa Senators in 2019. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
More jobs posted for Abbotsford AHL team

Five new opportunities accepting applicants, Comets forward Lukas Jasek signs in Finland

Singer Ben Cottrill performs during the 2019 Arty Awards at The Reach Gallery Museum, the last time the event was held in person. Cottrill received the award in the performing arts category. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Nominations now open for 2021 Arty Awards

Annual event hosted by Abbotsford Arts Council, with ceremony Sept. 25

Xauni de Figeuiroa of Abbotsford has been selected to attend a virtual space camp hosted by the Canadian Space Agency at the end of July.
Abbotsford student selected to attend virtual space camp

Xauni de Figeuiroa among 52 youth selected from across Canada

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read