Grand Forks city council and the province are brokering a tentative deal to build permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness at the tenement campsite known as “Moto,” according to the city’s provincial liaison, Coun. Everett Baker.
The city owns “Moto,” a disused motocross track on Morrissey Creek Road which has attracted a number of illegally parked RVs in recent years.
“It’s been a long time coming, but I think all the puzzle pieces are starting to come together,” Baker told The Gazette Thursday, March 26.
The province has agreed in principle to fund a combined emergency shelter and supportive housing facility at Moto, which could see the province return BC Housing’s proposed 2nd Street property to city ownership, which would end the agency’s contentious proposal to run supportive housing out of that location, Baker said. Meanwhile, in a signed letter to Mayor Brian Taylor and city council, Attorney General and housing minister David Eby said on March 19, “I encourage you to keep the temporary shelter [at the old Hardy View Lodge] open,” as the province expedites plans to work out infrastructural logistics at the proposed Moto site.
Grand Forks and Victoria are meanwhile discussing additional provincial funding for more city bylaw officers and the cleanup of campgrounds on city property, including those currently established at Moto, he added.
Negotiations got underway last week after Attorney General and housing minister David Eby overrode a vote by Penticton city council, which would have closed a 42-bed shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
Baker had previously voted against BC Housing’s request for a two-week extension to its operating permit for the old Hardy View shelter, telling council that shelter clients had wreaked “havoc” on their host neighbourhood. But Baker said he realized it would be in the city’s interest to work constructively with Minister Eby and BC Housing.
“Instead of having a pissing match with the ministry, as might be seen as what’s happening in Penticton, we were able to negotiate in good faith,” he said.
The decision now falls to city council, which recently asked for public feedback on the old Hardy View shelter’s proposed extension — to approve or deny the agency’s permit to keep the doors open at 2320 78th Ave until March 31, 2022. All parties hope to have the proposed Moto facility permanently up and running by that time.
On Friday, March 26, City Hall sent notification to residents within a 100-metre radius of the shelter, explaining the broad terms of the deal.
Noting that “there is no downside” to the proposed solution, Baker said, “I would hope that, for the good of the city, that the public will realize that this is a good thing and support it.”
The 15-bed shelter at the old Hardy View Lodge has been staffed and operated 24/7 by Boundary Family Services (BFS) since it opened last December. Executive director Darren Pratt has said that BFS would continue to operate any homeless shelter in Grand Forks if asked by BC Housing and city council.
Pratt and Grand Forks RCMP’s Sgt. Darryl Peppler have been invited to field councillors’ questions before council votes on the proposed extension at the old Hardy View Lodge shelter on Monday, April 12.
Council will open the proposed “Moto” shelter to public feedback if the city can reach a final agreement with the province and BC Housing, Baker said.