List of people wanting to sound off about Kelowna housing project continues to grow | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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List of people wanting to sound off about Kelowna housing project continues to grow

The Agassiz supportive housing project has drawn protests from neighbours, including residents of this nearby complex where apparent supporters have painted their own protest sign.
January 09, 2019 - 3:09 PM

KELOWNA - Anyone anxious to hear Kelowna city council’s decision on the controversial Agassiz supportive housing project should settle in for a long wait at the public hearing next week.

The public hearing into the project had drawn 35 requests to speak and another 80 written submissions by yesterday afternoon, Jan. 8. The number of people on the list of speakers grew by at least three since Monday so it’s expected to get even longer, city clerk Stephen Fleming told

Each person on the list will have a maximum of five minutes to speak but can also respond to questions from council. That means it will likely take at least three hours to get through that part of the hearing.

But before anyone speaks, city planners will outline the proposal and B.C. Housing will have 15 minutes to make its presentation.

“After going through the speakers’ list, anyone else in the gallery will have the opportunity to speak,” Fleming said. “A public hearing is just that, an opportunity for the public to be heard.”

Once the hearing is closed, council can debate the rezoning application and make its decision but can also defer a decision if it gets too late into the night, Fleming said.

The proposal, for a currently vacant lot at 2025 Agassiz Rd. behind Orchard Plaza, is for a 52-unit supportive housing project. This type of housing is provided for homeless or near homeless people and seen as an essential tool for getting them to become productive members of society.

Some residents will have addiction and mental health issues so they will have support from the John Howard Society and outside agencies.

Neighbours have protested the project since it was first announced last fall.

They call it a “wet facility” because residents are allowed to consume drugs and alcohol in their own units and there is a safe injection site within the building. Staff from the John Howard Society will be there at all times but there are no security guards.

Opponents say the neighbourhood is too densely populated with seniors – many who are single women who fear for their safety.

Counter-protesters have scrawled NIMBY VILLE on the wall of a neighbouring complex where some of the protesters live.

Written submissions can be made to City Hall by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16. Those who want to put their names on the speakers’ list can contact the City Clerk’s department or sign in up to the 6 p.m. start of the hearing on Jan. 17.

Fleming noted that it is rare for the city to have a speakers’ list for a public hearing so he has no idea how many people who have signed in will show up to speak.

The speakers’ list is intended to speed up the hearing process but to also allow people to go to City Hall later in the session, if they so choose.

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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