West Kelowna  

Some WFN residents pushing back on proposed supportive housing project

Pushback against housing

Some residents living in the area around Cougar and Elk roads on Westbank First Nation lands are concerned about a supportive housing project proposed for the neighbourhood.

If eventually approved by Chief and Council, approximately 52 permanent purpose-built homes with supports would be constructed at 3235 Cougar Road.

The project, a collaboration between BC Housing and Turning Points Collaborative Society, according to the provincial agency, would meet critical community housing needs for people who don't have a home.

The project was scheduled to be discussed in the early fall, but was put on hold due to the provincial election.

With the election now official, plans are moving ahead, including a virtual information session Wednesday evening.

A number of residents opposed to the project are expected to voice their concerns.

A letter circulated among residents in September expressed "extreme concern," about "the problems and traffic that follows drugs, homelessness and this type of facility."

Those included public safety, crime, drug use and declining property values.

The homes would house people who have been homeless for a variety of reasons, some of whom have been residing in temporary supportive housing at the Super 8 Motel.

"The 2018 Westside Point-In-Time found 72 people experiencing homelessness. COVID-19 highlighted the critical need to bring people inside," BC Housing stated on its website.

"TPCS is an experienced non-profit society providing housing and support services to people experiencing homelessness in the region. They would operate the building and provide residents with supports such as meal programs, life and employment skills training, and health and wellness support services.

"Staff would be onsite 24/7, working with each resident to understand their needs and goals and providing the support they need to have housing stability."

Potential tenants would be screened prior to admission, required to pay rent, and sign a program and good neighbour agreement.

WFN has yet to issue approvals for rezoning, land use or development.

Those applications will be brought before council after the consultation phase closes Dec. 4.

If approved, it would be the first permanent supportive housing complex on the Westside.

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