New homeless shelter for Terrace, B.C.
New space found after public opposition and contentious zoning battle with city council
A Terrace, B.C. non-profit is ecstatic after finding a new shelter space to house homeless residents in the coming winter months — and it's not subject to public consultation or a city council vote.
Officials with the Ksan Housing Society have been looking for space for a winter shelter for years.
They thought they found an ideal location this spring in the downtown core, but their zoning application to use the space as a shelter was rejected by Terrace city council after stiff public opposition.
Elaine McGillivray, director of the Ksan Housing Society, said the group later received a generous offer: an individual was willing to sell his building on Lakelse Avenue, just outside the city centre.
"That was great," McGillivray said.
No re-zoning application required
But, she said, the best part was finding out that they wouldn't need to apply for a rezoning application or put it forward for a city council vote because the shelter is on the outskirts of the city's core.
It's a relief for McGillivray and her organization who battled critics who said the downtown shelter would negatively impact downtown businesses and tourism.
"It was pretty draining, that whole situation, all the work we've put into it and to find out that we didn't get it," she said. "It was a hard pill to swallow."
Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc, who voted against the original rezoning application, said she was pleased with the new location.
"It's probably a better location for them in terms of being able to grow, to offer more programs," Leclerc said.
Homelessness 'a problem for a community of our size'
Terrace, B.C. with a population of 12,000 has a significant population of individuals experiencing homelessness. The last homeless count in April 2016 found 113 homeless individuals.
"It is a problem for a community of our size," Leclerc said.
She noted that Terrace is viewed as a big centre for people from smaller communities in northwest British Columbia, with social services, training, schooling, and work opportunities.
But many individuals who come to Terrace can run out of resources, she said.
With files from Daybreak North.