Council passed the first three readings of the bylaw Monday night to exempt certain properties from municipal taxes next year, but Haven in the Hollow was not on the list.
Mission Community Services Society (MCSS) executive director, Sanjay Gulati, will be meeting with District of Mission representatives this week to try to convince them the Logan Avenue building, which operates the first stage housing program, is worthy of a property tax exemption.
Mayor Ted Adlem notes if a “satisfactory solution” to the problem is reached, the district can provide funds for the exemption through a grant.
Last month council removed the building at 32646 Logan Ave. from the list to compel service providers to clean up around the area. Adlem noted he receives many complaints about problems surrounding the building and believes MCSS needs to do more to address it.
Haven in the Hollow is a first stage housing facility which can take in 25 people at a time (20 men and five women) to help them develop skills and get off the street. The shelter also opens its doors to provide a hot coffee for those who need to warm up during the day.
“All our clients that reside with us are under strict guidelines,” said Gulati, explaining some of those rules include no drugs and respecting the neighbourhood. Clients are also asked to develop a plan to move forward and their progress is monitored by staff.
Gulati believes the ones causing the distress are not MCS clients. He says staff, at times, speak to people loitering in the area and ask them to move on.
There are more than 25 homeless individuals in Mission, and if others choose to camp on empty lots, it’s not up to MCS to police it, said Gulati.
“There’s an issue — we all know that — but we need to work together to come up with a solution. We can’t close our eyes and say we’re doing our bit.”
MCSS can’t identify all the solutions, and needs support from the district and police, he added.
It will be a huge burden for MCSS to come up with the $8,800 to pay the taxes on the property, said Gulati, who invites Mission council to tour the facility to learn more about the program.
“We want to show them how this benefits the community and hope they will reconsider.”