High Road Services Society is taking the lead on providing a temporary solution to Smithers’ homelessness crisis before winter sets in.
Following up on a promise he made to a group of assembled community service providers at a town hall meeting Sept. 3, High Road executive director Dana Gorbahn took a proposal to his group’s board, asking them to approve funding to set up two to four temporary camp-like structures to house six to 12 homeless people.
“We are looking at purchasing two to four separate units with the dimensions of something like 12 ft by 16 ft,” Gorbahn said, adding a final decision will be made once all the costs are known. “[The board] will not go for it if we are unable to do it with reasonable costs.”
Originally, when the idea of the temporary camp structures was proposed, Gorbahn had mentioned his organization’s empty lot on 16th Ave. as a possible place to set up the camp. That location has yet to be discussed, said Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach.
“The steps following that meeting were a proposal was going to come forward from High Road and then we were going to discuss it at council,” he said. “There have been some ideas thrown around but nothing official.”
While details have yet to be worked out, Bachrach said he was very pleased with the direction the discussion is taking.
“There’s a real spirit of cooperation and commitment to making something happen and exploring all the options. There’s a lot of work yet to be done but it seems to be headed in a very productive direction.”
The shelters would be provided at cost by Net Zero Structures Ltd. Gorbahn is attempting to have them designed to meet the building code with the preliminary plumbing and electrical installed so they can be moved to a more permanent location in the future.
Gorbahn said he would like to see the shelters assembled by early November.