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Mission mayor expresses frustration with province over housing project hold-up

Mayor Paul Horn wrote letter to environment minister in June, asking for expedition of review
Horn says the project has “experienced significant delays” due to a environmental review process and a subsequent audit.

Mission Mayor Paul Horn expressed frustration with the province over the slow pace of the 54-unit modular housing project on Hurd Street.

Correspondence between the mayor’s office and Minister of Environment George Heyman was shared at council on July 18.

Horn sent a letter to Heyman in early June, asking for help expediting the project, which has “experienced significant delays as it has gone through the environmental review process and a subsequent audit.”

The province announced the $12.3 million supportive-housing project was going forward in August, 2021, on the grounds of Dr. Hume Memorial Park.

Funding was first announced back in 2017, and the city worked with BC Housing on procurement and design processes, and to find an appropriate location.

Horn’s letter said that labour shortages and supply chain issues are making construction challenging, and the city’s building permit process was under pressure.

“It is clear that the timeline for building is extremely tight if we want to house people before another winter is upon us,” he said.

“As it stands, we are finding that our temporary shelter capacity is overwhelmed, and we are seeing a growing number of encampments in our forested areas.”

He added that city staff are concerned about potential environmental damage, and wildfire risk from these encampments.

The letter requests the ministry to speed up the process, as it is a “matter of life and death for some of our neighbours,” the community has gone through months of review, and the application showing the site was not contaminated was audited, which further slowed progress.

Horn asked for the file to be processed for the summer’s construction season.

Heyman’s response over a month later was “difficult to understand in terms of where we are,” Horn said.

It attached the province’s preliminary determination, dated July 6, which stated the site is not contaminated, but did not address any of Horn’s requests.

Horn confirmed with staff that BC Housing has not submitted an application with a building footprint yet, and asked them to follow up.

He said that he was “deeply concerned” about the slow process.