A new round of public consultation sessions is underway about the proposed conversion of the former Quality Inn hotel at 6465 201 St. in Langley into a supportive housing residence for the homeless, and organizers are hoping a change of approach will mean a better outcome.
This time around, BC Housing is holding smaller by-invitation sessions limited to 30 people leading up to a larger final meeting at the Langley Events Centre (LEC) at the end.
Dominic Flanagan, Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives on Homelessness at BC Housing, said he hopes going smaller will allow for “more meaningful, reflective” discussions.
“It’s hard to have a meaningful dialogue with 500 people in the room,” Flanagan said, referring to the public consultation meeting about the project last year, when hundreds packed a meeting space at the LEC to register their objections to the proposal.
That meeting was dominated by concerns about safety, a potential increase in discarded hypodermic needles and crime.
“There have been some communities where the dialogue has been a little loud,” Flanagan said.
He said getting homeless people off the streets and indoors helps both them and the community at large.
“When you’re living on the street, it’s hard to make a positive change in your life,” Flanagan said.
“This is a crisis,” Flanagan said, noting recent stats suggest the number of homeless in the Lower Mainland increased 30 per cent last year.
He said residents of the homeless residence will be screened and there will be 24/7 support on site.
“It’s not going to be a free-for-all.”
BC Housing and Stepping Stone Community Services Society are proposing to convert the existing 50-room hotel into 49 units of supportive housing as well as program space.
Stepping Stone will operate the housing, which would have at least two staff members on duty at all times.
The housing would include an office for the new Integrated Care Management (ICM) team funded through Fraser Health. The team includes a nurse practitioner, psychologist and psych nurse.
Currently, the ICM team is working out of the Gateway of Hope homeless shelter in Langley City.
BC Housing purchased the Quality Inn last year, but it is Township council who must decide whether to approve the necessary rezoning.
The agency has submitted a rezoning application and expects to present the project to council by late May or June.
To register for the 30-person consultation sessions, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the first and second choice of session. Confirmations will be sent with location and additional information. For more information, visit www.bchousing.org/langley.
Upcoming meetings are scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, May 17, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, May 25 and an extra session has been added for Saturday, May 26 from 10 a.m. to noon.
The final public information meeting will be held May 28 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
The announcement said there will be display boards; a presentation by BC Housing, Fraser Health, Stepping Stone Community Services Society and Langley Community Services Society; and facilitated dialogue between the community and the partners.