Ben Postmus with wife Debbie (right) and daughter Kayleigh. (Facebook photo)

Fruitvale man advocates for supportive housing

Resident Ben Postmus encourages families with special needs children to attend Fruitvale forum

A Fruitvale father is asking the Village to consider individuals with special-needs and disabilities when it comes to the proposed housing development.

The Village of Fruitvale completed their Master Plan for the former Beaver Valley middle school development last month, and are eager to unveil the details in a public forum at Haines Park on Sept. 12.

Related Read: Fruitvale forges ahead with middle school development

Ben Postmus is hoping that his daughter Kayleigh will one day be able to live independently, and sees the project as a great opportunity to make the community fully inclusive.

“The council is calling it an ‘inclusive community’, and I think families need to get out to the open house and see what it’s all about – that’s families with special-needs kids,” said Postmus.

Some with special needs require extra support to maximize their quality of life and homecare assistance may be required.

Many live independently in their communities, but need a bit of targeted support throughout the week to develop specific skills and take care of their own home. Others need to have someone available to support them in their home at all times.

Types of residential supports include supported living, shared living, and staffed residential, which offer varying degrees of support.

“There’s many options, you get into home ownership, subsidized housing, or shared with somebody else, and you can use the support dollars for the support staff, there are so many different options,” said Postmus.

Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette agrees that housing is required for people with special needs and disabilities, but also for independant seniors and low income earners, and believes that the current plan can accommodate all of the above.

“It’s affordable housing and what we’re planning there will accomodate special needs adults. There’s going to be one, two, and three bedroom units in the affordable housing apartment, and he’s advocating for accessibility, which is great and we all want that.”

The planned units will have some that are highly subsidized, partially subsidized and some that are market rentals, adds Morissette. The development plans also include a Daycare centre.

Village council will host the public forum, which will showcase phase 1 of the development, with strict COVID measures in place.

Postmus encourages others to attend the outdoor forum and voice their concerns and wishes as well.

“I’m interested as a dad, and I want a place for my daughter to live and this may be the opportunity.”

The Middle School Master Plan and Haines Park 10 Year Plan included a public forum back in January and user group input. Council wanted to make the Master Plan public prior to final adoption, and is hoping to get the development rolling with the demolition of the middle school.

Next steps include sourcing grants and funding through BC Housing, the Community Housing Fund and CMHC, and creating a childcare needs assessment for the BC New Spaces Fund, which offers funding support for childcare facilities.

“BC Housing will support us quite well on the housing piece of the development, but there has to be a developer that can make some money off of it before it happens,” said Morissette.

The Village is seeking public input, and reminds residents they must register with the Village office before taking the tour. The tour will begin at 9 a.m. at Haines Park with the first 50 registrants able to enter the space. If there are more than 50 registrants, a second tour will go at 1 p.m.

“Families that have a special-needs son or daughter come and see what the project is all about,” encourages Postmus. “This is the best way to get the word out to them. It’s going to be right here in our backyard.”

Light refreshments will be available for each session and a survey/feedback form will be made available on the Village website for public feedback regarding the format of the presentation.

Contact the Village to register at 250-367-7551 or go online to village.fruitvale.bc.ca.



sports@trailtimes.ca

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