The six First Nations, along with the Village of Burns Lake and in partnership with BC Housing, might be bringing transition housing or housing for the homeless in the community, in place of the Burns Lake Motor Inn.
The rezoning application for the proposed site for the housing project was presented before the village council on Aug. 11 for its first and second reading. The council directed that the proposal be sent for public reading as the next stage in the process.
“This project is for the people that are at risk of being homeless or are homeless, and it started back in July 2018 when the government announced that BC Housing has $7 billion for the next 10 years. So I applied for it and from there, it got the approval, and I started working with all the six Nations,” said Emma Palmantier who is the project lead as well as the director of health for Lake Babine Nation.
As part of the process, the village staff worked with the six First Nations, to identify parcels of land in the Burns Lake area for this housing project. Councillor Darrell Hill, who was on this committee consisting of the Nee Tahi-Buhn, Skin Tyee, Cheslatta, Burns Lake Band, Lake Babine and Wet’suwet’en First Nations, helped look for and finalize the Burns Lake Motor Inn.
“We toured properties and one of it was Burns Lake Motor Inn. We chose it because it is in a good location, not close to any residential areas, next to RCMP, right opposite from the mall,” said Palmantier.
According to Palmantier, the facility would house members from the six First Nations.
“There is a lack of housing in the communities. It is hard to meet the needs of the constantly growing population. So it will be members of the communities, because that’s who we are targeting is the six Nations,” said Palmantier.
The proposed facility would comprise 44 one-bedroom units of which three units would be accessible. The project would also include a lounge area, dining room, heat room, staff office and unit and a community room.
“I really want to see services like life skills, training, education, health, to really try and help out. Some of them are young people and I see potential in them. So life skills, traditional skills, get the elders involved to be the knowledge holders and teach young people the traditional skills like harvesting salmon and preparing salmon, smoking moose meat, traditional medicine. We have knowledge holders that still provide the teaching,” said Palmantier who is hoping to make use of the proposed community spaces within the facility.
The entire project which would be funded by BC Housing under the Special Projects Fund, is contingent upon the successful rezoning of the property.
The public reading will be happening on Sep. 1 according to Palmantier.
“We are proposing to do pop-up posters in the community, downtown, the mall, wherever people go, just to give everybody the chance to understand and get prepared for the public hearing and see what kind of comments and questions that we may receive,” she said, adding that she hopes the project would actually take off by next year Spring.