Central Saanich council wants authorities to slow down the selection process for the operator of the supportive housing project currently under construction on Prosser Road.
Councillors unanimously tasked Mayor Ryan Windsor and staff to submit a letter to BC Housing and David Eby, minister responsible for housing, expressing concern with the current request-for-proposal and asking for an extension of the June 30 deadline to allow for additional discussions with the municipality. Council also agreed to ask Island Health about its plans to support future residents at the facility.
Central Saanich is taking these step after Coun. Bob Thompson had submitted a notice of motion.
The project calls for 39 supportive units for what BC Housing describes as people at risk of homelessness at 1909 Prosser Rd. The supportive housing project is part of a larger housing complex that also includes 51 affordable housing units.
According to a BC Housing, people at risk of homelessness who need minimal supports and are ready to live independently will receive priority. BC Housing said the project responds to an urgent need and promised the project would be a good neighbour.
The project has faced criticism from nearby residents, and Thompson said the community remains concerned about the project.
“I have gone through the request-for-proposal (and) there are some issues that concern me,” he said. The submission deadline needs to be extended, so the municipality can offer additional input, he added.
Thompson said he is concerned that a future body tasked with representing the interests of the community will not have any input in the selection process, because it will not come into existence until after BC Housing has chosen an operator.
“For example, are we looking at stabilized folks that are ready to move forward with housing needs as opposed to acute-care (cases) requiring special needs that we don’t have the resources to manage at the current time,” he said.
The public heard Monday that Central Saanich will participate in the committee reviewing the RFP, but after it will have closed.
Coun. Gordon Newton pointed out during discussions that the current RFP does not include any language that gives locals priority in accessing housing in calling for such language in the RFP. (The public later heard that the staff has had discussions with BC Housing on the subject of prioritizing Peninsula residents, but outside the confines of the RFP).
Newton also pointed out that language concerning future engagement with the community leaves out local police, fire and emergency health services in calling for their specific inclusion.
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