Former Gibsons RCMP building to become supportive housing

It’s been a police station and a TV and movie set and now the site of the former RCMP detachment in Gibsons is going to become a 40-unit supportive housing complex.

West Vancouver, Sunshine Coast and Sea to Sky Country MP Pam Goldsmith-Jones was in Gibsons Mar. 8 to announce the federal government will transfer the property in the 700 block of School Road to the Town through the Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative.

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The federal government has valued the property at $638,000, but will transfer it to Gibsons for one dollar.

Goldsmith-Jones said local leaders had approached her to pitch the idea when she was first elected and their advocacy helped lead to the creation of the Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative.

“Gibsons council has been proactive in identifying federal land that could be repurposed to housing, and pointed that out to me about a day after I’d been elected Member of Parliament,” she said. “Gibsons has inspired that [initiative] for the whole country and many more communities in Canada are now benefitting.”

Powell River – Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was on hand to confirm the province’s role in supportive housing project.

BC Housing is putting forward about $14 million in capital funding for the project and will provide $1 million in annual operating funding.

RainCity Housing, which has already been contracted to operate the shelters in Sechelt and Gibsons and a similar supportive housing project under construction in Sechelt, will operate the facility.

“Gibsons should be proud, the Sunshine Coast should be proud, that we embraced this opportunity to lift everyone up. Our whole community gets lifted up by this kind of project,” Simons said.

“[A lack of affordable and social housing and workforce housing are significant barriers to enabling our residents and business to be successful… this announcement today will provide 40 new supportive housing units for people who need time to get on their feet and focus on lifestyle opportunities knowing that they have secure housing at the end of the day,” said mayor Bill Beamish.

The vacant building, which Simons described as “iconic”, will have to be torn down, but Beamish said he’s hoping they will be able to take a de-construction approach.  “I’ve asked that it be de-construction so that the valuable parts can be made available to community [for reuse]. We did a project in Haida Gwaii of that nature, where we had the contractor set aside doors and windows and major pieces so the community could come in once a week and take things away for free.”

The federal government has already surveyed the building for issues like asbestos contamination and done any necessary remedial work.

The project design has not been finalized, but it’s expected to be similar to the modular building BC Housing chose for Sechelt.

It’s still not clear if the new facility will incorporate temporary shelter beds.  The only available shelter in Gibsons operates on a seasonal basis and is open for evening meals and overnight stays only. 

The site will also still be subject to a rezoning and development approval process.

Community dialogue sessions and a community open house will be held in the coming months. BC Housing and the Town hope to have the approvals in place to start construction this fall and have the building ready for occupancy in spring 2020.

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