Residents mobilize against contact centre location

A few residents of Southlands Drive are already taking their opposition to the proposed Chilliwack Contact Centre to the streets.

Signatures are being collected for a petition they plan to present at the rezoning hearing on March 1.

“It’s not that I’m against the project in any way,” said area resident Renée Woods. “I think Chilliwack definitely needs it.”

She was one of a few local residents who showed up at city hall to watch Tuesday’s council meeting, where the rezoning application for the facility received introduction and first reading.

Woods is asking why the health contact centre couldn’t be established downtown instead.

“I’m worried that they’re just moving the problem from downtown to here. I feel they are taking the lowest socioeconomic group and moving it a block from my house,” she said. “If it changes the dynamic of our neighbourhood, it’s unfair.”

Her main concern is the location, as well as potential safety issues once the centre is up and running, given its proximity to at least three schools.

Woods said she plans to attend the March 1 rezoning hearing at city hall.

“I’m a firm believer that if you don’t get involved, you have no right to complain,” she said.

One of the project proponents, Lee Anne Hanson of the Pacific Community Resource Society, said she agreed with that sentiment.

“It’s going to be very important for residents to air what they believe, and we also hope we can harness that passion for the good of the project and the community,” she said.

Ultimately the best way to understand how things will be run would be to sit on the advisory committee they’ll be setting up once the contact centre project is operational, Hanson added.

There won’t be clients “hanging around” the gated and secure building.

“This will be a residential facility and a health centre with services to offer patient orphans, who don’t have a family doctor,” she said. “There will be no safety issues. This is going to be a positive for the area and a positive for Chilliwack.”

The Young Road site is currently operating as a Days Inn hotel.

An offer to purchase the property was recently accepted, but there are conditions yet to be removed before the sale is finalized.