A closed hotel may be opening its doors to visitors again soon, but this time to a different demographic.
Victoria Cool Aid Society is seeking a three-year temporary use permit to convert the Tally Ho Hotel at 3020 Douglas St. into 52 transitional housing units. The residence would include 24/7 staffing with trained resident support workers, access to health care and counselling and staff patrols around the exterior to inspect for damage and rubbish.
The application also stated visitors would be allowed on an individual basis, with staff monitoring their entrance and exit, which fuelled further council discussion at Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Coun. Ben Isitt said the restrictions on visitors discriminates against residents, and permitting only one guest at a time was “absurd.”
“Let’s say a resident of this facility has two children and maybe they have a custody agreement that restricts the hours of visitation, can they not visit the child in their home? … Do they have to schedule that separately in shifts? That’s ridiculous,” he said.
Perceptions from the neighbouring community were also discussed. Coun. Geoff Young questioned the impact such a facility might have on the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood.
“These facilities are being established without enough funding to address [potential problems],” he said. “You can only fool people so many times. People feel they got impacts from Rock Bay [Landing] that they didn’t expect.”
Coun. Charlayne Thornton Joe agreed.
“I share Coun. Young’s concerns that Burnside Gorge is getting inundated with social and supportive housing, and I think the rest of the city and other municipalities need to share the load.”
Avery Stetski, president of the Burnside Gorge Community Association, said in an interview that he was happy council sent the application back to the association’s land-use committee before it goes to public hearing. While the association is in favour of supportive housing, he said, the problem is what happens outside the buildings.
“We have a lot of shelter space, supportive housing, and it’s causing problems in the neighbourhood,” he said. “Even in three years, we’re going to lose neighbours. We’re losing them weekly now.
“You can’t leave a rake out, you can’t leave a tool out in the yard. Kids can’t play in their yard because there’s needles everywhere.”
Stetski said the association wants to know what kind of programs and sheltering will be offered, and how any issues that overflow into the neighbourhood will be addressed.
“We need a definite stance about what’s going in there,” he said. “Is that a safe injection site? We don’t know. It leaves these things open and they just compound the problem.”
The date for the public hearing has not been set, but it will follow the land-use committee meeting.