A small protest was held on Oct. 1 to oppose the three-year shelter extension for the The Portal as school kids pass by on Yale Road. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Chilliwack school trustee opposes downtown homeless shelter location

Board to decide at special meeting Wednesday on Darrell Furgason’s motion to send letter to city hall

A Chilliwack Board of Education trustee wants to send a letter to city hall to ask the city to deny an extension of the permit for The Portal homeless shelter on Yale Road.

A special regular board meeting has been called for Oct. 9 to decide on a resolution put forth by Trustee Darrell Furgason about The Portal, which is near two schools.

The motion put forth in the staff report is: “That the Board of Education send a letter to Chilliwack City Council requesting that the City not extend The Portal for three additional years and asking that The Portal be relocated for the safety of Chilliwack students.”

The move by Furgason is likely in response to a recent petition and protest from residents who say the homeless facility is too close to Chilliwack Middle School (CMS) and Chilliwack Secondary School (CSS).

• READ MORE: Parental frustration about Chilliwack homeless shelter boils over with petition

“Although we understand there is a need for homeless shelters and warming shelters in Chilliwack this is not the right location for it,” reads the preamble of the petition.

Bill Raddatz, executive director of Ruth & Naomi’s Mission, said the location was important because it was so close to the need. He added that the area was much worse before the shelter opened.

Raddatz also pointed to the successes The Portal has seen, which includes leading to 60 people getting in to housing and 29 entering addictions treatment. He added that the school district superintendent confirmed there were no registered complaints.

Those against The Portal say it is just too close to CMS and CSS.

On Oct. 1, a handful of people held signs on Yale Road East near the schools in protest of the location, urging city council to not renew the three-year temporary use permit.

At the same time, some homeless individuals set up a table in front of The Portal in counter-protest with signs that said things like, “We are people too” and “Housing is a human right.”

• READ MORE: Protesters against shelter location say that addictions and schools don’t mix

The Chilliwack school board will decide on Furgason’s motion at the special regular public board meeting on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.

– with files from Jennifer Feinberg


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