BC Housing looking to build homeless shelter at Burnaby Lake

BC Housing is looking to build a temporary 49-room shelter in the parking lot of the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.

The proposal is going before council for consideration as a way to bridge the gap between the closure of the warming centres and the construction of permanent supportive housing at 3986 Norland Ave. The Burnaby Lake arena ended its warming centre operations officially on the morning of July 1 following two extensions past its original April 1 close date.

Now, city staff recommends council approve a proposal that would see the city go into a legal agreement with BC Housing, allowing the housing authority to occupy a 7,500-square-foot portion of the complex’s east parking lot for a nominal fee.

BC Housing would bear all costs related to construction and operation of the shelter, including installing utilities.

If approved, BC Housing will build a single-storey modular shelter in that area that would include 49 rooms that would provide shelter for 45 people, washroom and shower facilities and office space for staff.

The modular building would be leased from LandSea, and BC Housing estimates it would take just 16 days from the issuance of a permit to complete construction if some site preparation is allowed beforehand.

In the meantime, BC Housing has accessed more hotel rooms in the city that are available to those in need – upon referral from, for instance, Fraser Health – until the opening of the modular shelter, which would also be accessible only by referral.

The shelter would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it would offer secure storage for personal belongings, including bikes, carts and pets.

It would also provide a meal program, housing outreach, and mental health and substance use support services, as well as overdose prevention services similar to other BC Housing shelters and housing.

BC Housing would have to have the shelter torn down and the site cleared out by Dec. 31 this year, as construction ramps up for the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex replacement, which will require the parking lot for a construction staging area.

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