Editor's note: The Boundary Sentinel has been sent multiple Letters in support of the MAPP project. They've been compiled here, so reader's can see them all at once. Any new letters supporting this project will be added to the top of this page in the order they are submitted.
Re: Letter of Support for MAAP
Dear Mayor Konrad & Members of City Council,
Although I am fairly new to the area, I have been a strong supporter of the MAAP Project since relocating to Grand Forks a year ago. I applaud the work that has been done to date through the tireless efforts of a very caring and compassionate group of dedicated individuals whose primary concern is for the most vulnerable people of this city – those living in poverty and many without the basic necessities of life such as food, water or shelter. To think that this project may be in jeopardy of losing the land (through a non-renewal of a 5-years lease agreement) is in my humble opinion, highly incomprehensible.
This project, with three social service agencies coming together to address homelessness, substance abuse and poverty is significantly unique to the community of Grand Forks and could be used as a model for other cities to replicate. In and of itself, this project is really one of a kind. The City of Grand Forks could potentially be seen as a leader in making a sig nificant change by embracing the project and becoming socially responsible for ALL of its citizens, including those living in poverty.
The collaborative efforts of Beths, Whispers and Habitat for Humanity will only be successful as a group if they remain together – a one stop shop. The Habitat ReStore will become sustainable, as will the three transition housing units planned for the top floor of the building. Funds that have been secured to date can only be used for the sole purpose of this collaboration. To try and relocate the project elsewhere is not even a consideration because it will mean a full disassembly – like a house that is torn down brick by brick. To try and rebuild this elsewhere, will in all likelihood not happen, and the efforts that have been put into it thus far will not likely occur again in this community. Think for a moment what the community of Grand Forks might look like afterwards if this collaboration were to dissolve. I believe the city of Grand Forks will lose its vitality if the homeless had nowhere else to go, but out into the streets.
On the other hand, if it were to remain an integral part of the downtown area, as is, and already intact with a strong group of community citizens giving it the push that it needs, would essentially increase potential for greater stability in the economy. The MAAP has created jobs as it has in two years grown from one employee to eleven with further potential to produce more jobs. The development of the ReStore could potentially see a flock of new people who will make the drive from nearby communities to purchase reused building supplies, equipment, furniture and appliances. The spin-off effect will boost the economy in the downtown core as people will potentially shop and visit stores and other businesses located within the city.
Thanks in advance for consideration of City Council to take a new look at this project in its entirety for long-term plans.
Your Worship, Mayor Konrad and Council
City of Grand Forks 2015-03-19
Re: Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and BETHS Transitional Housing
For the past four years I have been a Volunteer Director/Chair Person for Boundary Emergency and Transition Housing Society. In my professional capacity as the Boundary Region RCMP Detachment
Commander I saw a need in the Community. We were experiencing break-ins into Park washrooms, people sleeping under bridges and in bank foyers, lighting fires and leaving garbage behind. The social and criminal issues surrounding homelessness were not being addressed. The Extreme Weather Shelter has contributed to addressing some of these problems. Since Nov. 1st until Mar. 15th ,2015 the Shelter has provided 681 bed nights for homeless people in our community. The development of transitional housing will address more of these issues.
Bringing Habitat for Humanity, Whispers of Hope and BETHS together at one location was not an accident. A great deal of research and planning went into this decision. The City of Grand Forks, both staff and elected officials participated in this planning in order to bring services in a central location for those in need. This partnership is unique in B.C. Many communities have looked at our model and what can be accomplished in a positive light, when non-profit groups come together to provide services that local government cannot afford to do and Provincial government will not do.
Contrary to some opinions, Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores are thriving, attractive commercial enterprises, that provide jobs, reduce waste in our landfills by recycling and support the building of affordable housing in communities across the world. The project proposed is an approximately $500,000.00 improvement to what has been a vacant, run down building and property. There is no reason to believe that, given the current economic climate, any other commercial enterprise or developer will come forward in the near future to purchase and develop this property. MAAP, with the City’s past encouragement, has spent thousands of dollars to date on engineering, soil testing and architectural planning in order to see this project get under way.
Again, contrary to some opinions, the MAAP project allows for the continued development of a linear riverside park and trail system as envisioned in City planning for many years. The property is owned by the City and can be developed for this purpose in concert with the proposed project. Private ownershipand development may not see that possibility.
Please do not allow this unique opportunity to slip away.
I am writing you regarding the land use decision at 7212 Riverside Drive.
It is disturbing to hear the new City Council hesitating or, even worse, possibly reneging on the agreement to house Whispers of Hope, BETHS and Habitat for Humanity on the site. Thousands of dollars have been spent by both the City and Habitat on site preparation and architectural drawings under the belief the City was prepared to proceed with the project.
This project has been years in the planning. Habitat began looking for a ReStore site and after several sites were consider, at the City’s recommendation, 7212 Riverside was chosen. Around that time the Multi Agency Accommodation Project (MAAP) was formed to include Whispers and BETHS. This would lead to all three organizations operating more efficiently and economically. The latter two were important to the City first for Whispers to have a better location for their meal services and thrift store. And for BETHS to provide an emergency winter shelter identified as lacking in previous studies and assessments of the City. This was a win/win result for the City and the three agencies.
It will be a major disappointment and insult to the many City and area residents volunteers who have worked hard to bring this project to completion for the less fortunate in our community.
The community trail behind the property would be maintained with an attractive screen on the upland side of the property.
I urge the City Council to allow this project to move forward while Provincial grant money is still available to seed the final stage of the project.
Ray Hanson, former Chair, Habitat For Humanity Southeast BC
The City of Grand Forks
Mayor Konrad and members of Council:
RE: MAAP application / request for a 10 year lease of 7212 Riverside Drive
Allow me to express my appreciation for the time you took to listen to our rationale for the request of a 10 year lease agreement for 7212 Riverside Drive. The MAAP project addresses numerous points identified in the City of Grand Forks’ Communities 1st Agreement, as well as several “Guiding Principles” defined in the Sustainable Community Plan. The collaboration of the three participating agencies has reduced their long term dependence on Grant in Aid support from the City, streamlined the administrative process between the 3 agencies and the City, relocated Whispers of Hope from the highway corridor, and consolidated 3 social services at one location adjacent to the downtown core.
The 7212 Riverside Drive location provides walking accessibility for MAAP clients to / from the downtown core, a vital component of the services offered. MAAP (or the three individual agencies) would not be able to afford any other current facility in the community, and are grateful for the lease provided by the City of Grand Forks.
Planning for the 2nd phase of MAAP’s plan (ReStore, Transition Housing Units, and office space) has been done carefully and methodically over the last three years, and specifically designed for the portion of land which was formerly 72nd Avenue adjacent to the existing building. This plan and the funding secured to date cannot be parachuted to another location as has been recently proposed by some individuals.
The negative consequences of separating the ReStore and Transition Housing Units from the MAAP project will be a tremendous loss for the City of Grand Forks and the entire Boundary area.
Dear Mayor Konrad and Council
Over the past three years, the City of Grand Forks and the MAAP partners have spent time, energy and resources to find the most suitable location for Whispers of Hope, BETHS and Habitat for Humanity to come together in one location to best serve the needs of vulnerable individuals and the citizens of the City of Grand Forks. By providing these services to those in need, the entire city benefits.
There has been concern voiced regarding a ten year lease in the present location and questions about if it is the best location for the Habitat Restore and the proposed transitional housing units.
The answer is yes. There has been much research, planning and preparation go into the proposed site. Locating these organizations together significantly reduces operating costs and increases the services over what each can provide standing alone.
Currently the Habitat Restore is temporarily located on Sagamore Avenue in a leased location. The lease is taking from the profits which would otherwise be directed into affordable housing here in Grand Forks.
The Riverside location which was renovated by MAAP for Whispers and BETHS sat empty and run down for several years prior to the lease agreement between MAAP and the City. The adjoining lot where the proposed Restore building and transitional housing units would be built has never been built on. A new Restore and housing units in that location would only add to the value of the land. And, it would not restrict public access to the river forks.
Currently, Habitat and BETHS have commitments of up to $377,000 in grant money from provincial and federal sources which are dependent on securing a 10 year lease. If the lease cannot be secured, that money, and the jobs it represents, both in construction and long term employment is lost to our community.
Please do not let our community loose this opportunity