Council goes on record against 2nd Street housing

Smoking ban also gets approval

In a chess match of a vote on Monday, Grand Forks councillors went on the record with their stances on a BC Housing-built supportive housing facility slated for 2nd Street and Central Avenue.

Coun. Rod Zielinski put forward a last-minute motion to set up a “yes” or “no” vote on the statement: “That the city council of Grand Forks supports a 34-unit supportive housing [project] at the location of 2nd Street and Central Avenue.”

The intent, it appeared, was to confirm where council stood on the issue.

“If the motion was meant to flush us out, consider me flushed,” Coun. Moslin said to the motion.

“I do believe that there is a need for this facility in the community,” Moslin said, adding that he did not support the construction downtown because it would be a closed residential building at “what has been called the ‘literal gateway’ to our city.”

Other councillors also backed Zielinski.

“It’s abundantly clear that the community doesn’t want that [project] anywhere in the city,” reasoned Coun. Christine Thompson.

Mayor Brian Taylor was the only member of council to vote in favour of the motion, citing the city’s letter of understanding with BC Housing, which laid out the process should the city have rejected the alternate location at 70th Avenue, which was shut down at the last council meeting.

The letter, which was presented to council on May 1, indicates that “the City acknowledges and agrees […] that all permits, permissions consents or otherwise required to be provided by the City in connection of the development of the [project] shall be issued on or before July 15, 2019.

By voting 6-1 against backing the 2nd Street development, the mayor suggested council could be going against the spirit defined the letter. Meanwhile, Zielinski moved a motion to recognize that the zoning of “core commercial” at 2nd and Central does not permit a building with a primary use of high-occupancy housing.

No smoking in public spaces

Council also passed new smoking regulations on Monday, restricting places where people can smoke cigarettes, cannabis or even vape in the city. Among the areas banned are any picnic areas, Market Avenue between Riverside Drive and 5th Street, along public sidewalks and around playgrounds and sports fields.

Bronwen Bird, a trustee with School District 51 – Boundary, also said that the school board has passed a measure to ban any smoking on school properties, effectively eliminating the “smoke pit” at Grand Forks Secondary School.

City staff indicated that enforcement of the bylaw would be primarily complaint-driven and to have the public self-regulate in shared spaces. By effectively banning smoking in most public areas in the city, Taylor said that the city is looking at creating several designated smoking areas, though locations have not yet been released.

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