Thursday, November 14, 2019

A call for priority status for housing issues in Prince Rupert

Last week's official opening of the Cedar Village Elders/Seniors
residence has helped to address some of the housing issues in Prince Rupert,
but there is still much work ahead to provide for affordable housing in the community

The need for improved housing for those in need continues to be a theme for those who deal with the issue closely in the community, with a social media message of last week calling on the Mayor of Prince Rupert of make housing a priority for the city.

The message from Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing was relayed through their social media platforms last week, calling attention to the conditions facing a number of local residents today.

Their note does serve as a reminder that there has not been much said for a while now about the current housing stock situation for those in the most need of affordable housing, the opening of the Crow's Nest of earlier this year marking the last tangible work on the issue.

That facility, which was a long overdue and a welcome addition to the stock of available housing, provided for 36 new units, a downsized version from the original plan to deliver 44 units, but still it was something that was desperately needed and worthy of note at the time.

Another option which also opened  last year is located just a bit further down Park Avenue, with the opening of the refurbished Anchor Inn building, which is operated by the Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society and has a number of apartment units now in place and open to all residents of the community.

One other positive move for local housing came last week, as the Metlakatla led Cedar Village Housing Society officially opened the new Elders/Seniors residence at Green and 7th Avenue East, with the first of the tenants set to move in next month.

Last month, Councillor Nick Adey outlined for Council the new ownership plans for a pair of other Seniors residences, Kaien Place and Wayne Place, which now are being operated by an organization affiliated with the Knights of Columbus.

As the Councillor noted  in October, they are looking to upgrade the current facilities, while considering a new structure at some point down the line.

Still, there remains a number of residents that are still in need, the downtown emergency shelter on Third, once considered a temporary fixture to address the immediate need has now become a full time shelter for all intents and purposes.

Since the opening of the Crow's Nest, there hasn't been much said on the political side of the discussion about any future plans for Prince Rupert, with neither MLA Jennifer Rice or City Council making for much information on the path ahead.

The last official note of any kind related to the theme of housing coming from the Mayor's Facebook page in September, when he made a short mention of some discussions that took place with BC Housing officials during the UBCM convention.

The Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing message made note of how different communities approach the issue of housing, and around the Northwest some are more active on the file than others.

The topic of the need for more affordable housing has recently made for some extensive discussion in Smithers and Terrace.

In the Bulkley Valley, Smithers Council members recently made note of the complex nature of the issue and how they may look to solve it in their community.

Housing, infrastructure top priorities in Smithers strategic plan

Terrace, which has already seen some significant levels of affordable housing put in place for those in need, recently hosted a  well attended community forum on the theme. 

The Terrace event provided an opportunity for the public to weigh in with opinions on how that City should be approaching the issue, as well as to learn first hand from their civic representatives as to what plans are in motion for the future.

Terrace comes together on homelessness
Terrace Homeless forum 

Taking the issue of housing to the public, may be a path which the Mayor, Council and MLA may wish to follow up on.

Offering as it does, a chance to provide the community with some idea that they are actively working on to address one of the largest issues in the region and one which is clearly in need of some additional resources and attention as we head into the nastiest of the weather for the year.

For more notes on housing across the Northwest see our archive page.

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