A small crowd gathered on the sidewalk Wednesday morning to watch a dilapidated old building at First Avenue and Angus Street fall victim to an excavator’s bucket. For some, it was entertainment. For two, though, it represents hope.
Port Alberni’s Association for Community Living (PAACL) bought the property awhile ago with the intention of building some sort of housing project for people with developmental disabilities. That is good news for Emma Jokinen and Len Robertson, whose 17-year-old daughter deals with global developmental delay disorder.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Jokinen, who lives in the neighbourhood.
She worries about finding decent housing for her daughter after she turns 18, and whether her daughter will be able to live on her own. Jokinen said there is definitely a need for new housing for the developmentally disabled.
The PAACL building is located at Second Avenue and Angus, and the organization also owns the parcel of land between their building and the lot where the house was torn down, PAACL executive director Dominic Rockall said.
Now that the old building is gone there is a decent-sized lot to develop.
“We’re not exactly sure what kind of building we are going to be putting up there,” he said. PAACL already has four group homes that provide 24-hour care for people with developmental disabilities. They also provide outreach support for people living independently.
“What they’re looking at with this (property) is some type of semi-independent, apartment-style housing,” he said. “Not a group home and not communal.
“It will be integrated with apartments that will be for the general public.”
Rockall said there are no plans to start building yet.
“We’re in the very early stages of this. We have to look for funding partners,” he added.
The newly-acquired property is already zoned for multi-family use so PAACL will not have to apply for rezoning for whatever project they choose, Rockall said.