The public hearing for the rezoning application for a six First Nations and the Village of Burns Lake’s proposed community housing project, saw 16 attendees present on Aug. 31.
The public hearing took place at the the Lakeside Multiplex in the presence of the Mayor, a few members of the council, BC Housing representatives, representatives for some of the six First Nations and a few members of the community.
The six First Nations, the Village of Burns Lake in partnership with BC Housing, are looking to bring transition housing or housing for the homeless in the community, in place of the Burns Lake Motor Inn.
“It is not a shelter, this is long-term support for housing for those individuals that are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Burns Lake and the surrounding areas,” said Malachy Tohill, the regional director of operation for BC Housing.
During the hearing, few members of the community spoke up in support for the project. Rob Charlie also voiced his support for the project but pointed out that apart from this being a long-term housing project, there is a need for having some short-term housing support. He expressed his hope that the housing project would have a couple of rooms set aside for such short-term housing needs where people come in to the town for just a couple of days, or overnight, for things like medical reasons, emergencies, job interviews but have nowhere to stay or cannot afford to stay in hotels. In such cases, short-term housing would come in handy.
Emma Palmantier, the health director for Lake Babine Nation who is leading this project, also spoke and indicated that the housing project would involve a couple of such rooms set aside for short-term housing needs as well. A couple of more members also spoke up and supported the idea for the short term housing option. Tohill then responded to some of the questions from the members and indicated that BC Housing was working on this project, keeping in mind all the needs of the community.
“You are not going to get a job or get much further in life by living in a dumpster or an alleyway, or on the street; it is pretty hard to get up from something like this and that’s why this housing is so important,” he said.
The village held a third public hearing on Sept. 1 during the regular council meeting.
Sheryl Worthing, chief administrative officer for the Village of Burns Lake said that the next steps for the rezoning application involved sending the application to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) for review and approval after which it will be considered at the Sept. 15 council meeting.
”If it receives approval from MOTI, the bylaw could be adopted at the next regularly scheduled Council meeting,” she said.
The entire project is being funded by BC Housing under the Special Projects Fund and is contingent upon the successful rezoning of the property.