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Occupancy permit granted for Gibsons supportive housing

Committee calls on local government to prevent forced evictions
N.Gibsons Housing
Artwork by Kwakwaka’wakw Nation artist Simon Daniel James being installed on the Supportive Housing Complex in Gibsons on March 9.

Home is where the occupancy permit is and as of last Tuesday that makes 749 School Rd. home for 40 individuals in need of stable housing.

On March 9 the Town of Gibsons issued an occupancy permit for the supportive housing facility, Town of Gibsons CAO Emanuel Machado confirmed, clearing the way for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to move in.

In January, BC Housing, which funded the project and oversaw construction, said the goal was to attain the permit by the end of that month for an early February move-in date. However, regular inspections continued into February.

The site, which includes 40 permanent studio units with 24/7 staff and on-site supports, will be managed by RainCity Housing, with mental health, substance use and other supports supports provided by Vancouver Coastal Health.

At the end of last year, 106 people had submitted applications with the Supportive Housing Registry to reside in the 80 units between the Hightide complex in Sechelt and the School Road facility.

The shelter in Sechelt has been at-capacity for the month of January and 21 hotel rooms have been leased in Sechelt until next March.

Sunshine Coast Homelessness Advisory Committee chair Silas White, who assists with the emergency shelter at the Salvation Army in Gibsons, said the five-bed shelter hit over-capacity on March 8 and will likely remain that way until it closes at the end of March.

In a letter addressed to the Town of Gibsons but sent to all local governments on the Coast March 9, White “strongly and urgently” recommended that the town make a motion to defer any bylaw enforcement that would require residential rental evictions until 2022 except in the case of significant health or fire safety risks.

White said his committee is “aware of a number of these situations, in multiple local governments, currently in progress,” adding, “this freeze still may apply to only a relative handful of situations, but every little bit will help.”

Mayor Bill Beamish told Coast Reporter the town has not forced evictions “at this time.”

“Once notice is given, and timelines are established, people either comply or ask for an extension. That’s where we try to work with people,” he said, adding the town’s primary concern is not to “add to the homelessness issue, and ensure properties are safe for people to live in.”

Council is expected to discuss the letter at an upcoming meeting.

The District of Sechelt told Coast Reporter “it is not actively involved in forcing evictions.”

When asked whether the Sunshine Coast Regional District has been involved in forced evictions, CAO Dean McKinley said, “The short answer? ZERO.”

“I’m not sure what is driving that perception, frankly. I don’t think any of the local governments on the Sunshine Coast are.”