Allaying McCurdy fears

The newest supportive housing project operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna won't become reality for nearly two years.

But, that isn't stopping residents of the McCurdy and Rutland Road area from voicing their concerns.

Neighbours around what is currently the Knights of Columbus hall were incensed two years ago when a recovery house for men was proposed on the same piece of land.

Those fears are only getting louder with well documented problems at another CMHA Kelowna facility, Heath House, which opened in January at the former Good Night Inn off Highway 97.

"We have responded to some residents, and we have people raising some concerns," said community and events manager Jessica Samuels in response to questions about Heath House.

"In the community, generally we hear people raise concerns, and we understand why they are concerned and we understand there are issues. There are a number of things CMHA Kelowna has done in the immediate recent past and ongoing to address those issues.

"These include a community cleanup crew, an increased presence by RCMP, extra night security to patrol the area ... and, in partnership with other businesses, night patrols to act as a crime deterrent.

"We want to be good neighbours."

One of residents' main issues with the McCurdy facility is that it is what's termed a wet facility.

Samuels confirmed the agreement all tenants will be required to sign will not prohibit the use of drugs in their rooms. But, she says it's expected those residents will be further along in their recovery than tenants at Heath House.

"We are expecting they would be better positioned with themselves to be ready to move off it," she says. "Or perhaps there are other major issues in their life that have been addressed so they will be in a position to move off that."

Residents of the McCurdy area are invited to an open house on the subject Wednesday night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Rutland Centennial Hall.

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