By Andru McCracken

Council gave third reading to an OCP and Zoning amendment to accommodate approximately 14 affordable housing units for women and children in need as well as staff offices next to the Valemount Health Clinic.

This development will provide long term affordable housing for women and children in need, which will build upon the existing short term services provided by Robson Valley Community Services,” read a staff report.

Though support for the idea of providing long term affordable housing for women and children was unanimous, some residents voiced concerns about the location. Chief among the concerns was that the development didn’t suit the neighbourhood and that traffic and noise could be upsetting for women and children fleeing violence. Also there was speculation that the construction of the building would prevent the construction of a new hospital in Valemount.

Others expressed concern that local feedback wasn’t being taken seriously.

Councilor Pete Pearson was supportive but wanted to know more before the project proceeds beyond zoning.

“I’m in favour of the rezoning, my one thought would be that we invite the proponents to have discussion with council and senior staff. It seems to be somewhat different than what was originally thrown to us. Once we get past
this stage I’d like to meet with them further,” said Pearson.

Councilor Donnie MacLean said two of the neighbours raised concerns.

“This project is needed so badly, there was no real strong reason not to do it, as far as I could see,” she said.

Mayor Owen Torgerson said he was relieved to hear it wasn’t the safehouse program.

“It isn’t a safehouse. We heard from the provincial perspective, it supports a housing need. Rezoning this will save countless lives,” said the mayor. “Everyone seems to be supportive of the concept, just not in my backyard.”

He said concerns around traffic and noise can be mitigated with design.

Council gave third reading to the changes.

Councilors Sheri Gee and Councillor Hollie Blanchette didn’t take part in the discussion but left the room, declaring a conflict of interest. Gee works for Robson Valley Community Services and Blanchette is the chair of
their board