A young person walks by The Portal on Yale Road as guests and staff hand out refreshments in a counter protest to those opposing the shelter location. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress file)

A young person walks by The Portal on Yale Road as guests and staff hand out refreshments in a counter protest to those opposing the shelter location. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress file)

TOP STORIES 2019: The Portal location in downtown Chilliwack became an irritant

Council decides to extend the homeless shelter permit after four-hour meeting at city hall

The location of a homeless shelter in Chilliwack raised the hackles of some residents in late 2019 who wanted it moved out of the downtown core.

When it opened in December 2018, The Portal’s existence galvanized support from the community, with volunteers stepping up to paint the windows, and collect games. But as the months went by, concerns among some parents and residents grew about criminal activity outside the shelter.

The topic of the shelter location blew up on social media in September, and an online petition with almost 3,800 names asked that The Portal be moved.

“Although we understand there is a need for homeless shelters and warming shelters in Chilliwack this is not the right location for it,” read the preamble to the petition. “This shelter impacts the entire neighbourhood and children in the neighbouring schools.”

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

The Portal shelter was up for renewal of its temporary use permit in October, but given its close proximity to two schools, a large crowd packed city hall demanding council turn down the BC Housing proposal.

Officials replied point blank there were no suitable alternative locations to move it to.

That record-breaking four-hour meeting on Oct. 15, with more than 40 people at the mic until after 1 a.m. saw passionate parents, youth and downtown residents talk about the open drug use, criminality, and concerns about student safety.

Council also heard comments about the crucial work being done to help folks navigate services, and the shelter guests who’ve moved on to supportive housing. Some supporters pointed out out that the crime, mental health and addictions issues were pre-existing problems downtown before the shelter opened, but there was none of the security on-site, staffing or services back then.

In the end, council eventually voted to leave The Portal where it is, and extend the permit to just 18 months instead of the three years proposed.

A permit extension was required since city officials are not enforcing zoning or building code bylaws for the shelter. Physical changes are coming too, including a new side entrance, showers and bunk beds.

• READ MORE: Council votes to give Chilliwack homeless shelter an 18-month extension


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

TOP STORIES 2019: The Portal location in downtown Chilliwack became an irritant

Just Posted

A Chilliwack driver’s vehicle was impounded for seven days after an excessive speeding violation. (RCMP photo)
RCMP catch Chilliwack driver doing 60 km/h over posted speed limit

The motorist was hit with a big ticket and a seven day vehicle impoundment

Glenwood Seniors Community is the second long term care home in Agassiz to have a COVID-19 outbreak. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Glenwood Seniors Community in Agassiz

The long term care home is the second of Agassiz’s three facilities to have an outbreak

UFV assistant kinesiology professor Dr. Iris Lesser exercises along Chilliwack's Vedder Rotary Trail with her daughter Kaia. (UFV photo)
UFV study finds women with reduced physical activity had more mental health struggles during COVID pandemic

The study suggested women suffered more than men as gyms, parks and playgrounds shut down

The section of Princess Avenue from Young Road to Nowell Street, seen here on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, will be converted to one-way traffic to help increase parking in the area. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack council opts to convert downtown street to one-way traffic to create parking

Council voted to start with Princess Avenue, holding off on converting Victoria Avenue until later

Uber Eats has announced that it is now delivering food orders in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. (Submitted photo by Justin Walker)
Uber Eats announces expansion into Chilliwack

Food-delivery company is starting with 60 local restaurants

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read