The site of the third Surrey property that may house temporary transitional modular units for the homeless. (Photo: Google Maps)

Third site of homeless housing project may be across from Surrey rec centre

This would be the third and final location for 160-unit modular housing project in Whalley

SURREY — The City of Surrey is considering a temporary transitional housing project across from Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre.

If approved, this would be the third and final location for a modular housing project, which the province announced on Jan. 12. The other two sites will be in Whalley as well – at 10662 King George Boulevard and 13550 105 Ave. Between all three locations, 160 “emergency” transitional housing units are set to open in early spring, to address the growing homeless population in the area.

On Monday night, Surrey council considered a Temporary Use Permit for a period of three years for the third and final location, at 13425 and 13455 107A Ave. Proposed are 60 units in two buildings there.

The potential third site would be across from Whalley’s Tim Binnie Park, which offers youth and senior-focused programming and is also home to a skate park.

See also: Surrey mayor says 160 ‘emergency’ houses for homeless will change 135A Street

The property is currently vacant and zoned CD, in which a care facility is not a permitted use. In order to act house temporary modular homes, the site requires a permit.

On Monday, city council approved the permit to proceed to public notification. While the permit is not subject to the public hearing process, Surrey Clerk Jane Sullivan explained there is still opportunity for the public to comment.

“The public are to send their comments in writing to clerks (fax, mail, in person or by email) and we ensure that all submissions are provided to council with their agenda packages,” she said.

City council could make its decision as early as the next council meeting on Feb. 5.

See more: Count finds 49 per cent more homeless people in Surrey

See more: More than 100 seniors living on Surrey streets: homeless count

Meantime, city hall has already received concerns about the choice of location for the third site. In its pre-notification process, one concern brought forward was that the housing project would be too close to the park and the SkyTrain stations, and that the proposed housing project will result in more people congregating in these areas.

In a report, city staff said that in addition to housing, the facility will also serve meals, offer counselling and medical services, life and employment skills programming to support those it serves.

Another concern recorded by city staff is the potential for this facility to become permanent.

To that, staff said the permit would be for a “maximum three-year duration” and the “intent is that these units will be replaced by permanent affordable housing, once additional sites have been identified.”

A report to council also reveals that the “current owners of the property are not intending on pursuing any redevelopment on the site for at least three years. As such the proposed temporary modular housing project will provide for an interim use that helps to address the immediate need for housing units and support services for individuals who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness in the City and across the province.”

The units will provide an “emergency solution to meet the urgent need of people experiencing homelessness,” notes a report to city council.

The housing will be eventually replaced by 250 units of permanent affordable housing.

The project is part of the provincial government’s “Rapid Response to Homelessness” program, which is an “innovative housing solution that provides an immediate housing option and necessary support services for vulnerable individuals, utilizing construction techniques such as modular design to expedite production and rapidly create new, provincially-owned housing units.”

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