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Proposed Salmon Arm shelter site selected after 18-month search

Public given opportunity to ask questions at open house meeting
BC Housing regional operations manager Cheryl Roepcke responds to questions from the public at an open house meeting held at the Salmon Arm First United Church on Wednesday, July 12, 2023. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

A recent open house offered residents an opportunity to learn more about a shelter proposed for Salmon Arm.

On Wednesday evening, July 12, B.C. Housing hosted an open house at the First United Church regarding a 25-unit shelter proposed by BC Housing for city-owned properties at 341 and 361 Fraser Ave. NW.

The event began with an information session that led into an hour-long question-and-answer period, with staff from BC Housing and the City of Salmon Arm on hand to respond.

Over the course of the Q&A, it was explained the City of Salmon Arm and BC Housing had been working together for 18 months on finding a property suitable for the shelter. City chief administrative officer Erin Jackson explained the city owns very little land and the ideal location needed to be close to services, “and this site meets that need.”

Asked if private properties could be considered, a BC Housing representative said yes, but explained one of the constraints right now is having the shelter operational by winter, and for that, land is needed “right away.”

Attendees were told it hadn’t been determined if the shelter would have a curfew. However, the site would be staffed and security measures in place 24/7, and shelter users would be allowed to stay throughout the day and not be made to leave in the morning. If the shelter is full, BC Housing regional operations manager Cheryl Roepcke said the Canadian Mental Health Association Shuswap Revelstoke, which will be managing the facility, will work with those needing shelter to see if there are alternatives.

Asked if the shelter would be drug and alcohol-free, Roepke said the shelter will be a “low-barrier site, so we meet people where they’re at so they’re not required to be drug and alcohol-free.”

Read more: BC Housing looks to construct new shelter in Salmon Arm by winter 2023

Read more: Neighbours of proposed Salmon Arm shelter properties raise concerns, questions

A number of questions pertaining to the process and public consultation regarding the selected site.

City planning and development director Gary Buxton said the open house meeting was part of the public consultation process. He explained, “Once we have a concept, something on which to engage, that’s when the process commences – that’s this process.”

Asked why neither the mayor nor members of city council were in attendance at the meeting, Buxton explained if they were all there it would have been a council meeting, while if only some had attended, they would have information other council members did not.

A BC Housing rezoning application is underway with the city in order to accommodate the proposed shelter at 341 and 361 Fraser Ave. A public hearing is scheduled to take place during the evening council meeting on July 24 in council chambers.
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