The Cloverdale Business Improvement Association (BIA) has announced that it will form a supportive housing task force, along with other community stakeholders, to consult on a future project in Cloverdale.
BIA executive director Paul Orazietti said supportive housing is a “really contentious and sensitive matter” in Cloverdale, and the formation of the task force is in response to the BIA’s wish to be more involved in a future location proposal.
The task force will include representatives from the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, the Cloverdale Community Association, Pacific Community Church and other community stakeholders, he said.
City councillor Brenda Locke commended the association for being “pro-active,” and said that she would be happy to meet with the task force for preliminary talks to discuss “what we need and what we’re looking for” when it comes to a location.
Each of Surrey’s town centres, including Cloverdale, will have supportive housing, she said. “We’re hopeful that we can find locations that can be embraced in communities and having this task force will be very helpful to do that.”
A proposal to build a four-storey building with 60 units of supportive housing in downtown Cloverdale was put forward, and later withdrawn, last year by BC Housing. The building would have provided permanent housing to low-income people who had a history of homelessness and needed additional support services in order to remain housed.
The site would have covered four properties, including the Cloverdale Mini Rec Centre, a house and a parking lot, within the Cloverdale BIA’s envelope. Before the application was withdrawn, the BIA voted unanimously to oppose the development.
“The community was not totally against bringing [in] supportive housing — the location was definitely an issue for a lot of them,” said Orazietti.
“The BIA was never allowed to make a comment on the site selection,” he said. “They made their mind up on where they thought it should go, and there was no plan b.”
The supportive housing task force will identify the Cloverdale community’s priorities, and ensure that local residents who are in need have priority placement in any future Cloverdale-area development. “There is a need for housing, and supportive housing, but we want to be part of the process,” said Orazietti.
The public consultation process for the project was contentious, and even became an election issue during the campaign last fall. Mayoral candidates were asked to weigh-in on the proposal, and, at that time, current Surrey mayor Doug McCallum said public consultation is the most important part of any city project. “That’s the biggest part of the program. To talk to the community,” he said.
Coun. Locke said that as supportive housing projects are planned and developed, the city will be meeting with a group of local stakeholders monthly. The city will identify one or two locations and go out to the community to see “if we can make that work,” she said.
Locke said that “it’s important to know that the City of Surrey really has a deficit of housing opportunities for people who are in need.”
There are about 700 people who are homeless in the City of Surrey, she said, and while 180 are living in temporary housing in Whalley, the rest remain without a home.
It’s the city’s goal to build permanent housing before the lease for the temporary housing runs out in about a year and a half, she said.
In late February, a proposal to build 38 permanent supportive houses was put forward for North Surrey, as part of a larger commitment to build 250 homes throughout the city. At that time, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said the “remaining sites will be announced in the coming months as project proposals are finalized.”