New Alberni shelter digs a step closer

The proposed new Port Alberni Shelter on Eighth Avenue has taken another step closer to reality.

Port Alberni city council voted to support the shelter society’s community consultation process for a new facility.

In a letter to council, Port Alberni Shelter Society spokesperson Myron Jespersen said the society is in talks with the Vancouver Island Health Authority to use their property on Eighth Avenue for the new shelter.

Public notification for the intended use of the property has also been completed.

VIHA however wants confirmation from the city that their consultation process meets city requirements.

In response, Jespersen said that upon access to the property the society will conduct outreach to potential project partners.

Also, the new facility’s design will be compatible with the neighbourhood’s look and feel.

The design will be posted for public input, which will be included in the final model and in funding applications.

Because the zoning is consistent with a facility, no formal process is required. Nevertheless, it’s important to educate the public and solicit input for the project, Jespersen said.

The facility has been in the area for more than 30 years and has developed a good relationship with the neighbourhood. Comments have been positive so far, but there could be challenges, he said.

“Some people enjoy it as an open field. They prefer it to stay that way and don’t want it to change.”

The project is a year behind schedule. Jespersen said he expects the early design phase  to take approximately five months.

Society officials hope to start construction next summer.

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