Coun. Everett Baker stands outside the old Hardy View Lodge shelter Wednesday, Feb. 16. Photo: Chris Hammett

Coun. Everett Baker stands outside the old Hardy View Lodge shelter Wednesday, Feb. 16. Photo: Chris Hammett

Grand Forks’ council extends temporary homeless shelter permit

Search continues for new, permanent shelter, says BC Housing

City council has extended BC Housing’s (BCH’s) permit for the temporary homeless shelter at the old Hardy View Lodge.

The extension allows the shelter to stay open through the end of March 2023. Council will meanwhile continue to work with BCH and housing minister David Eby to find a city location for a new, permanent shelter and supportive housing facility, council heard at the committee of the whole meeting Monday, Feb. 14.

READ MORE: BC Housing asking Grand Forks for homeless shelter permit at Old Hardy View Lodge

READ MORE: Grand Forks’ shelter to run until May, as council defers further extension

Addressing the committee via Zoom, BCH’s director of regional development John McEown said the agency had made “some really good progress” to that end, but met setbacks when proposed locations fell through.

McEown’s colleague Nanette Drobot then said the shelter had been consistently operating at or near full capacity, making safe beds and other resources available to around 15 clients every night for some time. Drobot said 90 per cent of clients live in the Grand Forks area, citing data from Boundary Family Services (BFS), which operates the shelter behind Grand Forks’ Boundary Hospital.

Boundary Family Services has run the temporary homeless shelter at the old Hardy View Lodge since December 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Boundary Family Services has run the temporary homeless shelter at the old Hardy View Lodge since December 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

When the proposed extension came up at council’s regular meeting, Coun. Everett Baker read letters of support from Eby and Grand Forks RCMP’s Sgt. Darryl Peppler.

“While this is a polarizing topic for many and one that generates a lot of conversation, I can say that from the RCMP’s perspective, the benefits of the shelter far outweigh the concerns,” Peppler wrote. Noting that BFS offers clients much needed support, Peppler highlighted that, “The shelter being open alleviates much work for us, so that we can focus our resources elsewhere in Grand Forks.”

READ MORE: Grand Forks, province reach tentative deal to operate permanent homeless shelter

READ MORE: Province turns thumbs down on supportive housing at Grand Forks’ Moto site

Leaving homeless people on the streets would make a hard job much harder on Mounties, he wrote.

Baker then put forward a motion to extend the shelter permit, which council passed unanimously.

There are around 35 people now experiencing homelessness in Grand Forks, according to McEown. There are between 55 and 60 people among a “vulnerable population” across the Boundary, including people who are housed in unsafe situations, he said.

Drobot said two-thirds of shelter clients were men. Fully 30 per cent of all clients identified as Indigenous, she added.

The old Hardy View Lodge is privately owned, according to Chief Administrative Officer Duncan Redfearn. Council in November 2020 granted a temporary use permit allowing BFS to run the shelter on behalf of BCH. Council narrowly voted to extend the permit in March 2021.

Coun. Baker suggested last spring that a permanent shelter and supportive housing facility could be built atop “Moto,” a disused Moto-cross site owned by the city and which until recently functioned as a homeless camp. Moto was taken off the table in the fall of 2021, after Moto was found to contain archaeological remains from Indigenous groups known to have lived in the area dating back thousands of years.


 

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City CouncilCity HallGrand ForksHomelessnessmunicipal politicsRCMP