Wet facility too close to kids

Rutland residents are speaking out against a supportive housing project slated to move into their community. 

A new 49-unit supportive housing project got the go-ahead to move in at the corner of McCurdy and Rutland roads.

The city of Kelowna Council approved the rezoning on June 17 even after neighbors told them they will fear for their safety and their children’s safety. 

A large crowd of people lined the street with signs that read “family zone, not wet zone” and “what about our kids?”

“We are protesting because a wet facility will be within three blocks of four schools, that is over 2,700 hundred kids,” said Nicole Green. “Our kids deserve better.”

Green is protesting at the event and says there are other protests planned this week as well. 

Another protester says the issue with the facility is that it was originally supposed to be a dry location and not allow drug use. 

Wet facilities are housing where tenants are not expected to abstain from using alcohol and other drugs, and where entering a rehabilitation program is not a requirement. Alternatively, dry housing tenants are not allowed to drink alcohol or use other drugs while in tenancy. Tenants are expected to be "clean" before moving in and actively working on their recovery while living there.

"Our biggest concern is this is extraordinarily close to schools, the original proposal was for a dry facility and when that fell through... this got approved as a wet facility," said Darcy Buskermolen.

He adds that he is supportive that the community needs housing facilities, but says this area can't be the solution. 

"I understand that there is a need for these kinds of facilities, but a wet facility does not belong 500 metres from the school," said Buskermolen. "We are not denying the need for supportive housing, for helping people with these kinds of problems but a wet facility in a neighbourhood filled with children, seniors is not the right place for it."

Coun. Loyal Wooldridge said back when it was approved that he is confident CMHA will operate the site in a respectful manner for the neighbourhood. 

"The time to complain is over. We have a plan, and I applaud those who are getting behind the plan," said Mayor Basran on June 17. 

Construction is expected to start this summer with the project being finished in the spring of 2021. 

An online petition was also started by residents asking that the project be stopped immediately. 

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