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Courtenay mayor concerned about decision to move supportive housing

Courtenay mayor Bob Wells says he is disappointed and concerned after BC Housing announced the purchase of the Super 8.

The purchase announced yesterday will see supportive housing residents currently living at the Travelodge be moved to the Super 8. Wells says this is a loss as the Travelodge had the space to grow.

“The benefit was that there was an extra 30 units there, but more than that it had really matured and gone through all the growing pains in the last three years. It’s been a very stable place for people to go,” said Wells.

“It seemed like a more natural location for us especially as we want to potentially use that space to also build a purpose-built complex care space. Buying the Super 8 and simply moving residents between motels with no added capacity or additional services really isn’t the long-term solution we’ve been pushing for.”

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Wells adds the move to the Super 8 presents more challenges, especially with timelines with the area not zoned for supportive housing and the motel has fewer spaces to expand any services.

He says the city has been advocating for a practical supportive housing solution and is demanding that BC Housing commit to the development of additional permanent supportive housing with wrap around services.

“Motels might be a temporary fix, but they are not the best long-term answer,” said Wells.

“I want our city to work alongside the provincial government and BC Housing, but I also want to make sure we are heard, because that level of cooperation and engagement is critical for this particular housing project and others to come.”

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A permanent, purpose-built shelter is also being asked for to relocate the Connect Warming Centre and its services.

In the meantime, city staff are working with BC Housing on the temporary use permit and to ensure safety and security requirements are figured out.

“We want to make sure that the people who are being moved are communicated to affectively,” said Wells. “It doesn’t matter, your socio-economic status in life, moving is a very stressful situation.”

Wells adds the decision BC Housing is making is difficult and has appreciation for their efforts to non-marketed housing over the last five years.

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“It’s great to see them stepping up to the plate, and I know that we’re going to be continuing these conversations,” said Wells. “We’re a willing and anxious partner to build those complex care beds.”

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