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UPDATED: Gulch proposed for temporary Trail homeless shelter

BC Housing is proposing to move the city’s downtown homeless shelter to a vacant property in the Gulch.

According to a legal notice, the plan is to build a “modular” shelter at 585 Rossland Ave., next to the truck chain-up area.

City council will consider issuing a temporary permit on Monday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m.

The permit would be good for up to three years and could be renewed once for another three years.

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“The use of the property for shelter services is intended to be temporary until a more suitable location can be secured,” the ad reads.

Last September the previous council gave BC Housing one year to find a new location for the shelter outside of downtown. That would be until a long-term supportive housing project could be completed.

In an interview, city manager Colin McClure said the property fits a number of BC Housing’s criteria, including still being close to downtown and amenities that the shelter’s population uses. Plus there are already water and sewer connections on site and it’s wide enough to accommodate the proposed modular structures.

McClure said the proposal calls for five structures to be placed together.

“They’re looking at landscaping and fencing, and those sorts of things so the occupants have an outside space but aren’t interfering with the neighbours,” he said.

The shelter would continue to operate with 18 beds as it currently does, but McClure said there would be the possibility of adding more during cold snaps or heat waves.

He said it remains a “stopgap” measure.

“What is really in demand in Trail and very much wanted by council and the community is a proper shelter and supportive housing,” he said.

“In the meantime we have a clock ticking with the current shelter. We don’t have another piece of land we’re ready to build on for new housing. So this give us a reprieve and opportunity to continue looking.”

The site proposed for the new shelter used to have homes on it, which were demolished in the early 2000s along with all remaining ones on Byers Lane to make way for the chain-up area.

The council meeting this month will include a presentation from BC Housing and the opportunity for the public to ask questions and share their opinions. Anyone who supports the idea or has concerns can also submit written comments in advance.

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