Council restricts use of transition house

Mayor and council approved a covenant for the Fireweed Safe Haven property at 255 Second Avenue.

Mayor and council approved a covenant for the Fireweed Safe Haven property at 255 Second Avenue.

The covenant restricts the potential uses of the building under the recently approved rezoning to social services/congregate care zoning. The property was previously zoned for single family residential.

The covenant was suggested as a measure to address opponents of the transition house’s concerns regarding increased traffic on the street.

While the facility will be approved for use as a transition house and the associated counselling services which the Fireweed Collective Society also does for women and children fleeing abuse, it will not be able to be used for additional counselling services, a day care centre, preschool or rest home.

The covenant did generate quite a bit of discussion at the meeting.

“For the sake of devil’s advocate, do we need to put a restrictive covenant on them?” said Councillor Riley Willick. “Pre-school, daycare, I don’t see those as threatening institutions to the neighbourhood.”

“I think it behooves council to have looked at both parties,” said Councillor Russ Gingrich. “The covenant was agreed upon by council and I see no reason to change that at this time.”

Brandi Hanterman of Fireweed Collective came to the meeting to express Fireweed’s concern the group would be restricted from moving the counselling services they currently provide out of the Sitka Building at the Second Avenue building should they need to move those services if a covenant was put in place.

While Hanterman made it clear Fireweed does not plan to move their counselling from the Sitka Building, their budget does not have room for increases in rent should the situation at the building change, and they want to have the flexibility to move them to Second Avenue if necessary.

Once council understood the services are ongoing counselling for women fleeing abuse, and not additional counselling services outside this mandate, there did not seem to be an issue with those services being allowed to go on at the transition house should they need to.

The covenant also restricts the height of the building, so a third story can not be added to the facility.