The Alberni Valley Community Stakeholders Initiative to End Homelessness (CSI) has called an emergency meeting for Friday morning to discuss this new development “and see if there is anything that can be done to avoid losing this gift to the community,” spokesperson Myron Jespersen said.
“We would like to see this property be given to our community rather than it just go back into the general stock of the government.”
He added that if Kuu-us does not receive the armoury property as planned, it will likely be offered for commercial sale and the proceeds will go to the federal government.
When agencies represented by the CSI were approached by the government to submit bids on surplus federal properties, three of them came up with plans, Jespersen said. Those plans were submitted to the SFRPHI program, which then chose Kuu-us’ plan.
This was back when the old post office at the corner of Johnston Road and Gertrude Street was up for discussion. However, it was sold to Pete’s Mountain Meats before any homelessness initiatives were submitted, Jespersen explained.
Last June CSI representatives—including Kuu-us Crisis Line Society—met with city staff to discuss the possibility of a land swap. “We asked (the feds) to hold off on choosing the proposal until we had a chance to explore the land swap option,” Jespersen said. “Unfortunately, the federal government gave us one week.
“We pored over maps and looked at all the available city properties over a few days and said there was no way we could pull something together so quickly, so we let it drop.”
Jespersen said he was surprised that the federal government has asked for a letter of support from city council, and more surprised that council declined.
He hopes city council members will attend Friday’s meeting.
“We want to keep the door open here so we can do something for our town.”