A proposal to build a four-storey building with 60 units of supportive housing in downtown Cloverdale will be moving forward to public consultations, BC Housing announced Tuesday afternoon.
The project is part of a City of Surrey initiative to address the urgent need for housing with supports for the more than 600 people across the city who experience homelessness.
In phase one of the project, the City of Surrey and BC Housing opened three short-term transitional units in the City Centre. Those short-term units were built with the understanding that they would be replaced by 250 units of permanent affordable housing.
The first site that has been identified for one of the city’s permanent supportive housing projects is within downtown Cloverdale at 5811, 5819 176A Street and 17635 58 Avenue. The city-owned land would be leased to BC Housing, and a rezoning and development permit will be applied for to build 60 units on the site.
| The proposed location of the 60 units of supportive housing.
The project would combine four properties into two lots for the development of the supportive housing. The sites include the Cloverdale Mini Rec Centre, which provides child care, a house and a parking lot.
According to the BC Housing website, “The building would provide permanent housing to low-income people over the age of 19 who live in the community, have a history of homelessness, and who need additional support services to maintain housing. Tenants would pay rent and sign a housing program agreement.”
Specially trained mental health and substance use professionals would be available on site, as would “the provision of harm reduction and overdose prevention services and home health nursing and home support.”
No other locations for permanent affordable housing in Surrey have yet been identified.
“Once built, these permanent sites will replace the 160 temporary modular homes that are housing people who were formerly living on 135A Street,” said the BC Housing media release.
“Priority will be given to individuals who are homeless in Cloverdale. However, the housing will also be available to people in the surrounding area who are homeless, and those currently living in the temporary supportive housing units in central Surrey.”
If the project is approved, construction is estimated to begin as soon as January 2019, with occupancy available in the winter of 2019-20.
Businesses near the proposed site are ‘firmly opposed’
The proposal has already met with opposition from local business owners.
“All of the residents and businesses that physically neighbor this proposed site are firmly opposed and frustrated with the BIA for not taking a more vocal and visceral position immediately on this project,” said the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association in an Aug. 22 statement published to their Facebook page.
The Cloverdale BIA noted in the statement that it had not yet taken a formal stance on the project, and is encouraging its membership to express its concerns at upcoming September information sessions.
“It just seems like the right project in the wrong area,” BIA president Dean Moore told the Reporter.
“We’re being allocated 25 per cent of the [proposed 250 permanent housing units] even though Cloverdale only has 15 per cent of the population of Surrey,” he said.
The Cloverdale Town Centre, which the BIA represents, is “a small town,” he said. “We have two main commercial streets, if we don’t include No. 10 highway, and we’d be taking away what could be potentially commercial properties by turning it into [supportive] housing.”
The BIA is also concerned that supportive housing residents, visitors and employees would not have access to adequate transit or parking.
“One of the requirements for the centre is quality transit, which is something that we don’t have in town. The Fraser Highway corridor has better transit to start with, and will have LRT, which makes more sense,” said Moore.
The BIA has identified two city-owned properties along Fraser Highway that they feel would be better suited to the project. One is located at Fraser Highway and 180th Street, the other at 192 Street and 64 Avenue.
According to BIA executive director Paul Orazietti, there’s a concern that this project is moving forward too quickly. If it proceeds without making sure essential supports are in place — including transit and parking, among other BIA concerns — it could become a significant problem in later years “that would wreck the livability of the town,” he said.
BC Housing, the City of Surrey and Fraser Health are planning a series of information sessions on the project to inform community members and answer questions.
Small group sessions, which will require pre-registration, have been planned for mid-September at Pacific Community Church (5337 180 Street). The sessions will be hosted by a facilitator, and attendees will be able to ask questions and discuss concerns in groups of around 25 people. The sessions will be held:
- Monday, September 10, from 12—2 p.m.
- Tuesday, September 11, from 6:30—8:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, September 12, from 11 a.m.—1 p.m.
There will also be a “presentation suite” open to public tours in the Pacific Community Church on Monday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 20, from 12 to 8 p.m.
A community open house has been scheduled for Sept. 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Pacific Community Church as well.
To register for the small group information sessions, or to ask questions, email email@example.com.