A housing proposal by the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society (GNS) was approved to go to public notice by the city of Prince Rupert after the Oct. 10 City Council meeting.
GNS made a separate proposal for the same site in Feb. 2023, which led to swift backlash from various residents who opposed the plans to develop on Hays Cove and Frederick St.
While GNS’ earlier plans fell through, it will be applying to provincial grants to go through with the project. The newest proposal, which would be 34,000 square feet, outlines 41 units, a seven-unit increase from its previous plans.
Both parking and height variances to the city’s bylaws would be required, which the report to council said was “largely due to physical constraints of the property.”
Housing has been a perennial issue in Prince Rupert, detailed by the analysis made by the City in the Council’s agenda.
“In 2023, Council identified it as a strategic priority to support and encourage new and renewed housing working with industry, senior government and First Nations,” the agenda said.
Councillor Nick Adey warned the Council that going ahead with this public notice could spark a renewed discontent from neighbours to the proposed lot, while Councillor Barry Cunningham suggested some residents have complained about being unaware of previous public notices.
“I know there is some significant concern from those in the neighbourhood,” Adey said. “I want to respect that.”
However, as the city’s housing crisis was discussed further, multiple councillors expressed their concern that kneeling to “not in my backyarders,” or “NIMBYs,” could result in badly-needed housing projects being stalled or blocked.
“We’re not going to be able to please everyone,” said Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven.
Skelton-Morven also added that many residents who work multiple jobs or have childcare duties are often unable to attend Council meetings, meaning their opinions might not be heard.
“There’s so many voices that won’t be in public discussions,” he said.
Senior housing was another topic brought up throughout the council meeting, with various councillors suggesting the city is in desperate need of homes for the elderly.
The GNS project proposal has outlined 12 designated senior housing units, while the remaining would be a mix between one and three plus bedroom units.
According to the GNS, around 1400 Nisga’a members live within Prince Rupert and Port Edward.