City updated on status of homeless shelter


A proposed $16.6 million homeless shelter for Cranbrook is continuing on the right path, say project organizers.

Salvation Army Captain Kirk Green and Cranbrook and District Community Foundation chair Neil Cook appeared before City of Cranbrook council Oct. 3 and brought them up to speed on the project, now in its third year.

Along with plans moving along accordingly, with a bump in the total cost, is a sense of growing anticipation of provincial government support, said Green.

“We were told we’d be long retired before the province could look at funding and we’re now the number one priority,” he said.

The 72-unit, three-storey, 56,000-sq.ft. project, slated for a 2.5 acre parcel of land adjacent to the Salvation Army’s Thrift Store at 533 Slater Road, is being powered forward by a 17 member coalition.

The facility will be operated by the Salvation Army, which provided the land. A $125,000 federal government grant paid for a survey, and BC Housing will build it mortgage free, council learned. In addition, BC Housing will provide funding to contribute toward operating costs.

“The facility will come with a full range of programming,” Green said, noting such things as life skills and anger management among the programs.

It is expected the facility will employ 19.5 full-time employees.

Cook told council there remains a great need for a homeless shelter, noting there is no such facility between Lethbridge, Alta. and Nelson.

“There is a demonstrated need. Homeless people (in the region) have always come to Cranbrook,” he said.

In addition, there is an even greater need than before because of “a loss of inventory” of available rooms in the city, with a loss of hotels to fire and closure. In addition, new B.C. Building Code rules have pushed the homeless back onto the streets.

“Some hotel rooms are sitting empty,” Cook said.

“The people who will use this facility are already here,” Green said, explaining that there will be a three-tier dwelling format, depending on the level of need demonstrated by residents.

The end of the planning also seems to be in sight, and actual construction is in the air, he added, noting that in 60 to 90 days a formal presentation will be made to BC Housing and “we hope to be digging in the dirt before spring.”

Council exclaimed their appreciation for the efforts being made.

“Wow! It’s turned into something absolutely phenomenal,” stated Coun. Denise Pallesen.

“The comments I received from everyone (at the Slaterville Community Picnic) were really positive,” said Coun. Bob Whetham.

“I really have to compliment you on your consultation process,” Whetham told Green and Cook, as the only neighbourhood concern he’s heard is one person wondering if there would be a fence.

The facility is “a really good example of why Cranbrook is a safe community,” noted Coun. Jim Wavrecan.

“It’s all about community. There is no ‘not in my backyard’ syndrome here and that’s because of all your hard work,” commended Coun. Diana Scott.

Concluding the discussion, Mayor Scott Manjak pointed out that a development cost charge waiver will be discussed in the near future by council.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW