No supports for support

In a recent interview, Kelowna Coun. Loyal Wooldridge expressed concerns about the lack of "supports" in place for supportive housing being built at a record pace here in our city.

Dr. Alina Turner, who was a consultant on the Journey Home plan and helped get it in place, has said the Journey Home Plan clearly identifies a lack of supports.

"In Alberta ... if you're putting a supportive housing project up, the ministry responsible for the construction has to negotiate ahead of time to ensure the supports are in place," said Turner. "From what I saw in Kelowna, that doesn't happen."

From this, it appears these supportive housing buildings are supportive only of a continued drug-using lifestyle and not supportive in the least of rehabilitation.

Wooldridge indicates those who wish to pursue rehabilitation will face a wait of up to six months to get into a treatment bed and that there are no treatment beds available for youth in Kelowna.

As council is only now approaching the ministries required to provide the necessary supports – something that should have been arranged by BC Housing long ago – it would appear that Kelowna will be lucky if the supports are in place by the end of the five-year Journey Home plan. Meanwhile, every neighbourhood in which these buildings are placed will suffer from the insertion of drug-addicted populations into their midst with next to no possibility of their rehabilitation anytime soon.

Why is it that council has allowed BC Housing to race ahead with Heath House, Hearthstone, 2025 Agassiz, 280 McIntosh, 130 McCurdy without ensuring that wrap-around supports are in place first to ensure their success? Why have they disregarded the advice of their own consultant on this most important aspect?

In doing so, they have virtually guaranteed the failure of these buildings. They have ignored the legitimate concerns of the neighbourhoods where these buildings have been and will be placed. And they have also put at risk not only the future well-being of the residents of these buildings but have also put in jeopardy the health, safety and security of all of the citizens of the affected neighbourhoods.

This is an unconscionable and reckless disregard of our safety and well-being.

Helmut and Susan Herwig, Kelowna

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