More than 579 signatures were presented to Prince Rupert Council on April 26 in a petition showing support for the affordable housing development slated for 11th Ave. East.
Paul Lagace tenant advocate at the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Centre (PRUAC) spearheaded the pro-petition in response to a previous petition by local residents expressing concerns about the project.
Lagace said he wanted city council members to be aware that there is a large number of citizens who applaud the development proposition.
“I wanted to do this because I believe there’s a lot of people who support this. And I want to bring those voices to you. We just want to encourage you,” he said to city council members.
At the Committee of the Whole meeting, Lagace read from the body of the petition.
“We firmly feel that a six-story family orientated residence providing 70 units such as the one [proposed] on 11th Avenue East would have a positive effect in our neighborhood.”
“Our neighbourhood feels like we need to look at our town as a whole. We want to step up in hope that it encourages other neighbourhoods to step up, as well, ” the petition stated.
“We firmly believe that housing should not be a privilege, but a basic human right, a necessity that we all have access to. Since every person and family in the city needs this as a result we stand united with our fellow citizens so that we will no longer see blatant racism, classism, sexism run rampant in the city.”
In response to Lagace, Mayor Lee Brain said he saw a theme with this particular project and issued a reminder that there will be a public hearing on the rezoning and development issue.
“I want to invite you back to that public hearing to ensure that your voices are heard at the public hearing,” Brain said. “Just legally speaking for the council processes, we have to keep an open mind on any projects until such time that there’s a public hearing.”
“But, we’re hearing you loud and clear. We know that this is a massive challenge for our community,” Brain said.
City council is supporting housing initiatives across the spectrum by partnering with different groups the mayor said, with almost 300 residential units in the queue over the next two years to become housing stock ranging from affordable to market housing.
“This is the type of forum we want people to come to speak to us. This is the type of engagement we’re looking for,” Brain said of the petition and Lagace’s address to council.
It will be at the public hearing that city council will have official comments on the proposed Lax Kw’alaams development project, the mayor said.
“And it is in that forum where council will make a decision based on the feedback that we get from the community. That there’s already a petition of that many folks who believe in that particular project, then I’d love to make sure that that petition gets officially submitted,” Brain said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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