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Guesthouse eyed for homeless shelter

Guesthouse eyed for homeless shelter

BC Housing is one step closer to opening a temporary homeless shelter to replace the one at St. Hilda’s Church after the Sechelt Advisory Planning Commission (APC) gave thumbs up to a rezoning proposal for the Upper Deck Guesthouse at its Nov. 9 meeting.

BC Housing is proposing to lease the property, which is currently a hostel, and have RainCity Housing operate it as a 24-hour shelter. The Wharf Avenue property is zoned for commercial uses, including accommodation for tourists and the travelling public, but not residential uses. It would be rezoned to add “shelter residential” as an acceptable use.

The Upper Deck is presently approved for 22 hostel beds and requires no renovations, said municipal planner Angela Letman. The homeless shelter operating at St. Hilda’s has 15 beds, and is open only 16 hours per day, whereas the new shelter would be open 24 hours and provide three meals a day. A caretaker suite on the property would be used by staff so they could provide 24/7 supervision.

A member of the APC asked how this proposal relates to an application by BC Housing for a 30-35 bed homeless shelter on a District-owned property at the corner of Ebbtide Street and Trail Avenue. Letman said: “At this point we don’t know for sure what’s happening, and there’s been no official direction from council to investigate a lease or proceed in that location.”

The rezoning application was received by the District of Sechelt on Oct. 27. It will now go to the planning and community development committee and could be on a council agenda as early as Dec. 6. A public hearing is required after first reading of the bylaw. The earliest possible date for the bylaw amendment to be adopted by council would be Dec. 20.

Donna McMahon

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