An application from BC Housing was considered at the last Ladysmith town council meeting. The organization requested the cold weather shelter at 631 First Ave be rezoned to allow it to remain as a year-round 24-hour shelter. Town staff recommended the zoning be a site-specific change to allow emergency shelter for a maximum of 10 people.
Council considered a request from BC Housing to extend a temporary use permit at the Island Hotel shelter at a meeting in September. Council decided it would only extend the permit until March 31 of this year and that BC Housing come back to council before Jan. 31 with a report on how they would supply safe and dignified relocation of the shelter’s occupants.
Town staff, along with BC Housing and staff from the Ladysmith Resources Centre (LRCA) started discussions on moving the facility back to 631 First Ave. The property is owned by BC Housing and is zoned medium density residential. As housing is a provincial government agency, it is exempt from local bylaws so a rezoning is not technically required, however, BC Housing is following the town’s regulations and submitting a rezoning application.
At its Dec. 1 meeting, the Community Planning Advisory Committee reviewed the application and recommended the town approve the zoning amendment. The application was also referred to the RCMP, which expressed no concerns.
Councillor Marsh Stevens stated that he was happy to see the application come to council a month early.
“Municipalities should not be forced into providing these kinds of safeguards,” said Coun. Duck Paterson. “The feds and province should be there. Health is their job. If we keep putting homeless people in makeshift arrangements with no counselling support or residential health aides, or mental health support how does the province expect to help them advance?”
The first part of the recommendation, to give first and second reading to the bylaw and send it to a public hearing, was voted on and approved by council.
The town will announce a date and location for a public hearing early in the new year.