Surrey, BC (Sept 20, 2018): Surrey Councillor Tom Gill says the proposed 60-unit supportive housing proposal for downtown Cloverdale needs to find a new location.
"I've spoken to BC Housing and let them know that this is the wrong location and the proposal needs to look for a more appropriate site," said Gill, chair of the city's finance committee and Surrey First's mayoral candidate. "I've walked the proposed location and the neighbourhood and I've heard from the community. It's clear that this proposal has to go back to the drawing board. There's no formal application in front of city council, so the whole thing is at a very preliminary stage, which means starting over is the right option.
"There's no question we need supportive housing, that's a reality. But, the proposed location in downtown Cloverdale isn't the right fit, and I'm prepared to work with BC Housing and the community to find a better and more suitable location. We have a strong and progressive track record in Surrey when it comes to homelessness and housing, and while this location isn't right, it doesn't change our commitment to working with BC Housing and the community to create the supportive housing that's needed.
"I spent most of my career as chief financial officer for Coast Mental Health, and I've always been an advocate for social housing. I know how much it's needed, but I also know the right location is key."
Councillor Vera Lefranc said she agrees with Gill and that finding the right location is critical to the success of Surrey's supportive housing efforts.
"We're committed to supportive housing and finding creative ways to make it happen," added LeFranc. "But, when Tom and I walked around the site and the neighbourhood it was obvious that the fit was wrong and the community concerns were real. We didn't find a single person who was opposed to housing for the homeless, but when you look at the proposed location, and you listen to the practical and genuine concerns of the community, it's easy to see why finding a better location makes sense."
Gill said that sending the proposal back to the drawing board at this early stage makes more sense than going all the way through a formal process that's going to have the same result, all because it's proposed for the wrong location.
"I want to keep working with BC Housing and the community, and I want to make this project a priority for our next council," added Gill. "But, I'd rather deal with this particular location right now and save valuable time so that we can all get to work to find a location that makes sense for the city, the community and BC Housing. That's the kind of proposal that's ultimately going to get approved."