Housing for homeless proposed for 401 Motor Inn

The 401 Motor Inn site on Boundary Road in Burnaby is being proposed as a site for affordable permanent housing for people who have experienced homelessness.

Hartco Investments Inc., the owner of the two-storey motel at 2950 Boundary Road (at Manor Street), originally planned to modernize the facility and reopen to serve a more upscale clientele, said Dan Small of the PHS (Portland Hotel Society) Community Services Society, in a letter to council.

Instead, they have agreed to give the society a 37.5 per cent discount on the lease, at $750 a month, the letter said. "In today's housing market, this is a bargain."

The society would rent units out for $375 a month, equivalent to the shelter allowance provided under social assistance. That would leave the society with a $144,000 annual shortfall unless senior government or other funding is found to subsidize the operation.

According to a city planning report, the society proposes converting the existing 35 motel rooms to 30 units with kitchenettes. Activity and craft rooms are proposed (which could also be turned into an additional two units), along with space for an office, manager suite, and healthcare station.

The preliminary development concept includes a community kitchen if some units can not be fitted with kitchenettes. No meal programs are proposed.

The site is well served by transit and local grocery stores and there are no schools nearby. There is one family child care centre within 200 metres to the east and two group child care centres 400 meters to the south.

"The surrounding neighbourhood includes single, two and multiple family residential uses so there is potential for concern from local residents," the report said.

The site is located with homes to the east, commercial to the south, Grandview Highway to the north and Boundary Road to the west.

The proposal would require a rezoning. However, the report said, the community plan designates the property for a future medium-density mixed-use redevelopment on a site consolidated with several lots to the east.

The current motel building also does not meet current standards for residential development and the proposed units would not meet the minimum size requirement of 328 square feet under the zoning bylaw, the report said.

The motel has been in operation since 1973. The owner has said that if the PHS proposal doesn't go ahead, they intend to upgrade the building and continue operating it as a motel. Meanwhile, other non-profit organizations may also be considering similar proposals for the same site, the report said.

Burnaby city staff are recommending that council advise all potential proponents for such projects on the site that they will given further consideration "based on a 24/7 staffing model with adequate support services" if proposals meet certain conditions.

These include: that a sufficient and sustainable funding model is achieved; that a neighbourhood consultation process be conducted following confirmation of funding, in which the area community indicates support; and following that, that a rezoning application be submitted.

Council was to consider the recommendations Monday, after the NewsLeader's deadline.

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