SURREY – On Monday (Dec. 15), Surrey council gave the green light to a location for a new purpose-built shelter near Surrey Memorial Hospital.
The site, in the 9600-block of 137th St., was up for rezoning, from RF to CD, to allow for a combined emergency shelter and transition house.
The location went to public hearing last June and was met with some opposition. It was tabled at the time, as council directed staff to look at other locations. But Monday night, council gave third reading to rezone the site.
Coun. Judy Villeneuve said she’s pleased the city has decided on a site because she’s been assured BC Housing will come forward with the funding to construct and operate the centre. She said she hopes the facility will have 50 shelter beds and 50 units of transitional housing.
“It’s long overdue,” she said of the replacement. “With purpose-built shelters, they operate more efficiently. People are treated with more dignity. It’s very exciting, I think, for the city to be able to move forward with the project.
“This is my Christmas present.”
Villeneuve said she’s happy to see the project be within the hospital district, pointing to the sobering centre in the area, as well as the hospital and other health services.
She emphasized the difference a purpose-built facility will make for Surrey’s most vulnerable.
“I’ve done tours of the Lower Mainland’s purpose-built shelters and they work efficiently, people are relaxed and can stay during the day, and people are not hanging out on the streets. And really that’s what we want to see.”
As for whether the Lookout organization will operate the new facility once complete, Villeneuve said that lies with BC Housing, but noted, “Lookout has a good reputation.”