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Kamloops to rezone if necessary for apartment building for homeless

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October 13, 2017 - 3:03 PM

KAMLOOPS - Kamloops city council may be asked to do some rezoning in order to come through on a promise to build a modular apartment building for homeless people.

The announcement was made earlier this week, one of the several new initiatives from the city to deal with the homelessness crisis.

The project would follow the lead of a pilot project in Vancouver where space was made available for an apartment building comprised of several modular units and staffed around the clock.

While news the program is coming to Kamloops is great, according to ASK Wellness executive director Bob Hughes, he has concerns about what options will be available when it comes time to pick a site for the building.

"For example, anything on Tranquille or any of these areas where you'd think you want to put it, you have to put commercial on the ground," Hughes says.

The City of Vancouver waived its zoning requirements, he says.

The city's chief administrative officer David Trawin says if the best available site for the apartment is zoned for commercial or anything else that could get in the way, the city will take steps to make it work.

"If our zoning says it needs commercial on the bottom floor, the only way not to put commercial on the bottom floor would to undertake a rezone process," Trawin says. "If we find a suitable location and zoning needs to be changed then I think from an administrative perspective... if we feel it's the right thing for that area, then administration will recommend supporting such to council."

He says they are in the process of looking at city-owned properties and locations not owned by the city for the modular apartment.

Hughes at Ask Wellness is also worried about the possible "not in my backyard" response once a location is picked out.

"It'll be interesting to see whether that appetite exists," he says. "We know with that last round there were six properties that were going to be rezoned for the purposes of affordable housing... none of them flew because the public said 'sorry, won't do it.' So it will be interesting when we try to put these initiatives in, will it fly?"

Hughes says with this new commitment from the city to find people housing in Kamloops, there should be no more excuses.


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