ACAWS supportive housing project progresses

A public hearing for the development is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2022

The proposed second-stage housing for Vimy Street. (SCREENSHOT)

The proposed second-stage housing for Vimy Street. (SCREENSHOT)

More than 20 units of supportive housing for women and children fleeing violence have been proposed for a site on Vimy Street in Port Alberni.

Port Alberni received provincial funding back in 2018 for some second-stage housing, which provides safe, short-term housing and supports for women after they leave an abusive relationship or situation.

The project will be a partnership between BC Housing and Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society (ACAWS), the latter of which will operate the housing.

BC Housing and ACAWS have put in an application to the city to amend the Official Community Plan and the zoning for the site at the intersection of Vimy Street and Rosewood Street, changing the property from “parks and recreation” to “institutional.”

This will allow the construction of a two-storey transition house, which will provide 22 dwelling units ranging from studios to three-bedroom units.

“They’re aiming to develop second-stage housing for women and children at risk of violence, or who have experienced violence,” explained development planner Price Leurebourg.

The Vimy Street development, he said, is intended to be a safe and short-term housing option, with support services to help women and families transition to independent living. The typical length of stay for tenants is expected to be no longer than 18 months.

The development is “consistent with the surrounding neighbourhood,” said Leurebourg.

Council gave two readings to the proposed amendments. Four readings are needed for a final adoption.

“I would have liked to see higher density in this site, but I would definitely support the proposal because I think it’s much-needed housing,” said Councillor Helen Poon.

Councillor Ron Paulson also expressed support for the project and pointed out that the Oomiiqsu Mother Centre is being built only a few blocks away. This centre will provide housing and support services for Indigenous mothers and children.

READ MORE: Huu-ay-aht First Nations prepare to build Oomiiqsu, a unique centre for mothers and children

“Housing is being addressed in our community in a very positive way,” said Paulson. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the people who are living in this type of situation.”

A public hearing for the Vimy Street development is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2022 at 6 p.m. in council chambers.

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