Without much ado this week, the District of Squamish council gave its stamp of approval for some of the community's first supportive housing units to be built in the heart of downtown.
After strong backing at the proposal's public hearing, councillors on Tuesday (Dec. 4) unanimously approved third reading for the Centerpoint plan. The project, which would include a new church and community services building on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Victoria Street, represents a unique partnership between the Squamish United Church and Sea to Sky Community Services Society, Coun. Doug Race noted.
Concerns regarding the proposed building hinged on the project's five-storey height and increased traffic to the area, he said.
Increased traffic is part of Squamish's core's densification, Race said, noting that such growth is a planned part of downtown.
As for the building's height, the facility would block more of the view if it were massed to fit with existing zoning, Race said. As it stands, the proponent has stepped back upper portions of the building, leaving sight windows through to the backdrop, he noted.
“I think the proponent has taken steps to mitigate the five storeys,” Race said.
Centerpoint's initial plans include a community hall, three storeys of SSCSS offices, program rooms and seven supportive housing units for people with developmental disabilities. In the future, the building's users will expand to the fourth and fifth storey for more social housing.
The centre will consolidate some of SSCSS's 13 different facilities throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor, saving the society money and increasing service efficiency, said Lois Wynne, the organization's executive director. The society currently spends $200,000 a year on rent in four different downtown locations, she told The Chief in a November meeting.
Proponents aim to begin construction on the facility as early as next summer. The proposal will hit council's table one last time for final approval.