Changes to Kelowna supportive housing project would cost big bucks and cause big delays - InfoNews

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Changes to Kelowna supportive housing project would cost big bucks and cause big delays

Protesters against the "wet" McCurdy Road supportive housing project hope city councilors will help them out at a special council meeting this afternoon
July 17, 2019 - 11:45 AM

KELOWNA - Making significant changes to the McCurdy Road supportive housing project could be time consuming and expensive.

Audra Boudreau was the driving force behind a petition campaign calling on the provincial government to stop construction of the so-called "wet” facility that allows formerly homeless residents to consume drugs and/or alcohol in their own rooms.

Boudreau now says she is speaking for the group Rutland for Safe Neighbourhoods, and those who signed the petition based on the many communications she has had with them. She sent an email to Mayor Colin Basran and councillors yesterday, July 16, outlining what changes she wants council to make to the project – mainly to have it converted to low-income housing rather than a facility for the homeless.

But if such a change is made, it will come at a big cost, according to Mike Culos the owner of the Culos Group of Companies that has already started work at the site.

“It would probably add a year's delay to the construction of it based on redesign and resubmitting through the city process,” Culos told “With design fees and consulting and all the architectural engineers, probably half a million bucks (added to the cost).”

The building is currently designed with 49 units of about 340 square feet each. They have a sitting area, bed and small kitchen, all in one room, with a separate bathroom. There is also a common dining room and other common areas.

If it was, for example, converted to low-income seniors’ housing, the units would likely be more like 550 square feet, with a separate bedroom and no common space. Such a change would require a new development permit because the form and character of the building would be changed, Culos said.

Boudreau, in her email to council, calls for a “restricted-use covenant” to be attached to the property so that it will not be a “wet” or “dry” facility for the homeless.

“As you well know, however, residents would welcome low-income housing, perhaps for families or seniors, in the McCurdy location,” Boudreau added. “(It) … will realistically take very minimal time. This action will also present little to negligible risk of liability for the city, as B.C. Housing will still be funding it, and the same developer would still be building it."

Culos is waiting for his foundation permit from the city and is planning on pouring the concrete foundation later this month or in early August.

At a special city council meeting called for 4 p.m. today, July 17, council may make a motion to reconsider the zoning and permits for the project.

“If they hint today that that (rescinding) is a possibility, then we have all kinds of decisions to make,” Culos said.

While Culos is the builder, he has some understanding of the concerns of Rutland residents about the nature of the facility.

His office is on St. Paul Street across from the Cardington House supportive housing project and helped lead the campaign that tried to stop it from happening.

“We were the emotionally charged people carrying banners and doing all these things these people in Rutland are,” Culos said. “You know Cardington House has been across the street for 15 years and has not been an issue at all. At all.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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