Controversial Kelowna supportive housing project going to council Monday

Controversial Kelowna supportive housing project going to council Monday

The proposal, for 2025 Agassiz Road, is opposed by residents of the area

Kelowna city planning staff are recommending city council approve a controversial proposal to build supportive housing for people who are currently homeless and, in some cases, drug users, in a residential neighbourhood near the Orchard Plaza Shopping Centre.

The proposed 52-suite, four-storey building, slated fro 2025 Agassiz Road just south the shopping centre, would be built by B.C. Housing as part of its province-wide effort to provide more supportive housing for the province’s homeless.

But residents living in the area, many of whom are seniors, are opposed to the building because it would allows drug use, albeit supervised.

The residents have protested in the past about the proposal, citing concerns about increased crime, safety, lowered property values and open drug use in the area.

In its report to, the city planning department says the location is suitable because it is close to shopping and services, parks and transit and has a proposed density consistent with other densities in the area.

RELATED: Protests outside open house to for supportive housing proposal in Kelowna

The location is in what the city calls the “urban centre of Midtown,” and is within walking distance to many amenities including a community garden, Mission Creek Park and Rapid Bus transit on Highway 97.

The site fronts onto three streets and is immediately adjacent to the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church.

There is a mix of other property types in the area, including single family homes, multi-family buildings and public, institutional and commercial buildings.

Last week, during a open house explaining the project to the public, residents protested outside the hotel where the open house was being held.

They say they are not opposed to housing for the homeless, but say they feel their neighbourhood is the wrong location the type of housing being proposed.

Last month, a 46-unit supportive house development named Hearthstone opened on Commerce Road between Enterprise Way and Highway 97 and later this month, the former North Pointe Inn on Highway 97 will reopen as a supportive housing complex to be called Heath House. Both are B.C. Housing projects that have the support of the city.

Both are also harm reduction facilities, where supervised drug use is allowed and there are health workers onsite 24 hours a day.

B.C. Housing says special security measures employed at Hearthstone, and will also be at Heath House and the proposed Agassiz Road building if it is approved, to make sure security and safety is maintained for both residents living in the building and their neighbours.

If city council agrees to move forward with the rezoning proposal for the land the Agassiz Road project would be built on, the rezoning will go to a public hearing at a later date.

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