Castlegar City Hall. Photo: Kristen Lawson

Castlegar City Hall. Photo: Kristen Lawson

Castlegar introduces permitting process for emergency and transitional housing facilities

Each proposal will now be subject to evaluation

The City of Castlegar has introduced a permitting process for emergency and transitional housing facilities.

City council passed a zoning amendment that defines specialty housing types and permit requirements at its Sept. 7 meeting.

In a report accompanying the proposal, the city’s manager of planning said these amendments are necessary to provide clarity as to where certain housing types are permitted and to introduce language and direction in relation to emergency and transitional housing which was previously missing from the city’s bylaws.

The new policy allows emergency and transitional housing in any zone, but the facilities will now be subject to a temporary use permit (TUP). However, safe homes will not require a TUP due to the need for confidential sheltering.

TUPs must be referred to adjacent properties for feedback and, if appropriate, a public meeting may be held.

They are valid for a minimum of 30 days and up to three years and can be extended an additional three years. If an appropriate site is determined, the property could be rezoned to enable permanency following successful operation under the TUP process.

TUPs are used by municipalities as a tool to manage the impacts of emergency and transitional housing through operational and management guidelines.

The opening of The Way Out, an emergency warming centre operated by Castlegar and District Community Services, in November of 2020 took Castlegar residents and city council by surprise.

The shelter then moved to the former Flamingo Motel building in February 2021, without the need to consult the city.

According to the staff report, the emergency warming shelter, and the perceived and real community impact associated with the shelter, created the need for ongoing collaboration between emergency service providers and the city to find a suitable location for future emergency and transitional housing within the city.

The relocation of the shelter provoked a significant amount of community reaction and when CDCSS representatives met with city council to discuss operations, the online meeting was one of the highest attended online meetings the city has seen.

City staff will now begin to work with local housing providers on operational guidelines that incorporate best practices for the management of such facilities into the approval process.

The city says each proposal will be subject to evaluation based on assessment of need, proximity to services and amenities, provision of on-site management, good neighbor provisions, length of stay, lighting and security.

City of Castlegar Housing Definitions:

Assisted Living — Housing for seniors and people with disabilities that includes on-site hospitality and personal-care support services

Emergency Shelter — Immediate, short-stay housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

Group Home — Housing with supports for people with special needs such as severe mental and physical disabilities

Safe Home — Temporary housing for individuals fleeing violence, where a transition house is not available in the community

Supportive Housing — Housing for seniors and people with disabilities that includes on-site hospitality but not personal-care support services

Transitional Housing — Housing for residents for between 30 days and three years. It aims to transition individuals to long-term, permanent housing

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