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Contentious housing development rezoning application up for public hearing

Local property developers and housing advocates call for support at Aug 23. public hearing
Paul Lagace tenant advocate with Prince Rupert Unemployment Action Centre has started a community petition to support the development of a 70-unit housing complex development. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

A city housing advocate is calling on the Prince Rupert public to offer it’s support by attending a public hearing on Aug. 23rd for a proposed housing development on 11th Ave. East to be constructed by Lax Kw’alaams WAAP Housing Society.

A number, larger than can fit in City Council chambers, is expected to attend the public hearing which will be held at the Lester Centre of the Arts, starting at 6 p.m.

Paul Lagace coordinator and poverty law advocate at the Prince Rupert Unemployment Action Centre, said there is a good turnout expected with more than 600 signatures on a recent petition supporting the multi-unit family housing complex.

“This is awesome. I hope folks from the community can come out and show their support. This is a great project,” Lagace said.

The proposed development is a partnership project between the City of Prince Rupert, LKWHS, and BC Housing. The public hearing will allow city organizations and individuals to provide feedback on the rezoning application for which Prince Rupert City Council has yet to issue a final decision. The re-zoning application is for the land parcels to be amended from single residential to multi-unit residential zoning. If the application is approved, the project can go ahead.

“The outcome we hope to see is the development of 70 quality affordable rental homes for Lax Kw’alaams members,” Mustafa Kulkhan, project manager for Lax Kw’alaams WAAP Housing, told The Northern View.

“We want this process to be as successful as possible for our society and the city,” Kulkhan said. “We also ask that members of the public come together to support us and other organizations who wish to build affordable housing in the future.”

Lagace added the project is a vital one given the almost zero per cent vacancy rate in the city the advocate said and will provide families with a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units, as well as four accessible units, and short-term units required for medical stays.

“It is desperately needed for the community for our low-income folks, and it’s going to be a beautiful building. This project won’t solve everything but it will move things forward for people,” Lagace said. “People are desperate, desperate, desperate, for housing here. You can just read any of the Facebook pages any day to see how desperate people are for housing.”

“Obviously, there are a few individuals that are going to have some questions and concerns … I’d like to see people who support the project come out because I believe there are way more supporters in this community than people against it.”

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the community to say ‘hey we want this in our community. We want other things like this in our community’. I think it’s exciting and the city has obviously anticipated interest in it, so it’s at the Lester Center, with lots of room. I hope to see everybody there,” Lagace said.

READ MORE: Proposed residential rezoning draws ire of local residents

READ MORE: Two petitions stir up affordable housing debate with opposite views

READ MORE: Developers of proposed affordable housing complex looking for feedback

K-J Millar | Journalist
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