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Contact centre more than housing

Artist
Artist's rendering of the new contact centre.
— image credit: SUBMITTED

The provincial government is chipping in $3 million to help establish the Chilliwack Health Contact Centre.

BC Housing officials recently signed purchase documents with the owner of the property at Young Road and Hocking Avenue, a former Days Inn motel.

Contingent upon rezoning approval, the facility will offer an array of housing and health services at Young and Hocking to tackle homelessness, and those at risk of becoming homeless.

Residents will commit to live a “substance-free” lifestyle in a supervised environment at the contact centre, and sign a Good Neighbour agreement, according to the operational plan from the Pacific Community Resources Society, one of the proposed operating partners.

“It will make a real difference in people’s lives and improve our community,” said Chilliwack MLA John Les.

It’s more than just affordable housing, an area in which the province has invested almost $600,000, he underlined, it’s a full range of health and social services they hope to offer under one roof.

Chilliwack Hope MLA Barry Penner said they were delighted to be able to respond to the request for assistance from the committee of proponents, who have been putting the business and operational plan together for several years.

“We’ll be watching closely as this develops,” he said.

The residential facility with on-site health services will contain 24 supported housing units, also called “transitional” housing for adults with mental health issues or addictions. Another 10 spaces will be in a group setting.

Some might confuse this unique centre with agencies who offer emergency shelter for street people.

“Keep in mind this will not be a homeless shelter,” said Lee Anne Hanson, addiction services manager for PCRS. “It’s a residential supported housing program that will operate in collaboration with Fraser Health.”

If a homeless person walks in looking for a bed, they’ll be offered all the health care and referrals that were previously unavailable to them, but for emergency overnight accommodations, they will be referred to the local Salvation Army shelter or Ruth and Naomi’s.

Many services will be available under one roof, from some form of medical care to possible court advocacy and rental assistance programs.

Subject condition removal on the sale of the Young Road property is expected on March 31, with a closing date of May 3. Denis Turco Architect Inc. of Vancouver is designing the proposed 2,500 square-foot addition and alterations.

If the rezoning receives approval by city council for introduction and first reading on Feb. 15, a public hearing will be scheduled for March 1 to consider the rezoning from tourist commercial to a one-of-a-kind zoning designation, R9, for a Supportive Housing and Health Contact Centre Zone.

“Our $3-million provincial contribution will cover the property purchase and renovations to the existing building,” said Penner. “Now that a property has been found, we can move on to the next steps of getting these housing and health care services in place for people in need.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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