The city has received a petition opposing the use of a residential home as emergency and transitional housing and asks the city to withhold a business license until its authors can address council.
At Monday night’s council meeting, mayor and councillors discussed the petition.
Mayor Wayne Stetski noted that there were 19 signatures which represented 27 people on the petition.
Attached to the petition was the Ktunaxa Nation Social Sector poster which talks about turning the building at 202 13th Avenue into Scotty’s House, a 20 bed residential facility. The poster states that it would serve as a community living home share, as well as emergency and transitional housing.
Coun. Angus Davis said he understood the concern, but had a story to tell relating to the matter.
“I attended a facility in Maple Ridge a number of years ago. It housed about 40 people and none of these people were people that were on the high list of society.”
He said the facility was in a residential neighbourhood.
“And you know something, that residential neighbourhood treated you like a million bucks,” he said. “So I have to look at what the Ktunaxa want to do with this house, but I hope that they do what they want to do. I understand that it’s tough sometimes to be on the outside of society and be judged for a number of things. It’s beautiful to be in a neighbourhood that says ‘hey, we don’t care where you came from Angus Davis, you stay here as long as you want.’”
Davis hoped that they could get something like that here.
“I do know that we have to have an open mind about what people want to do,” he said. “If we can help some people, we should help them.”
Stetski said he does understand the concerns from residents, as for one it doesn’t fit the Public Institution Zoning (P-1).
Coun. Gerry Warner said he supports in principle what Davis said.
Warner said he lived in a nice neighbourhood in Whitehorse. The half duplex that he owned was across from townhouses that were being converted into a senior’s development.
“People in the neighbourhood just went ballistic,” he said. “They didn’t want seniors living in their neighbourhood.”
He said in brings up some important points.
“Do we live in a civilized society that tries to look after each other or not?” Warner asked.
Warner said it’s also a fair question to ask for more information on what the Ktunaxa Nation’s plans are for the facility.
Warner said there is the possibility of the issue developing into a nasty situation, so it deserves a well thought-out approach from council.
Stetski put a motion forward to get more information from staff and council voted in favour of that.