Construction of the Bill Reid Memorial Shelter broke ground in Cloverdale on Thursday afternoon.
The new shelter will be built next to the current Hyland Farms Shelter to increase capacity from 10 to 16 beds and provide 12 transitional housing units.
“I look forward to the positive impact of what’s going to be a phenomenal new shelter,” said Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux.
“We’re providing places for people to change their lives,” she said. “It will be a place to really re-imagine who they are and who they want to be. (It will) provide housing, support and, most importantly, hope.”
The existing shelter was originally a single-family farmhouse and, on a per bed basis, was one of BC Housing’s most expensive shelters when the development was first proposed.
The new, purpose-built shelter was made possible through an investment of nearly $4.2 million by B.C. and federal governments, funded through the Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement.
The land, valued at $2.8 million, was provided by the City of Surrey, along with approximately $150,000 through the Surrey Homeless Fund.
Options Community Services Society, which has operated the Hyland Farms Shelter for more than seven years, provided $420,000 to the project.
‘Peaceful and serene’ location
The new homeless shelter will be a two-storey farmhouse situated on 37 acres of floodplain farmland in Surrey.
“This is a peaceful, serene place where folks have the opportunity to slow down, settle in, and, with support, can move on to a more stabilized life,” said Christine Mohr, Executive Director of Options Community Services.
The agricultural setting is intended to provide opportunities for homeless men and women to engage in “meaningful farming activities” and build self-esteem and self-worth, according to the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society.
A rendering of the Bill Reid Memorial Shelter, which is expected to open this fall.
Bill Reid’s legacy
The shelter is named in honour of former MLA Bill Reid, who passed away in 2013. Reid was a champion of the project and was known in the community for bringing together businesses and local government to create resources, support and shelter for the homeless.
“The building will serve as a testament to (Bill Reid’s) hard work and his vision to find community solutions to help at-risk individuals find housing,” said Rob Jaswal, Affordable Housing Consultant for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Cadieux said she was “honoured and thankful” Reid’s name is a part of the project.
“He was a friend of mine, to Cloverdale and to the community,” she said. “Bill’s memory will be well served with this recognition.”
The Bill Reid Memorial Shelter is expected to open this fall.