BC Housing given free rein

Many Kelowna residents are under the mistaken impression that BC Housing and city council "listened to reason" regarding the concerns of Rutland residents about the McCurdy Road supportive housing facility.

While the reversal to make it a dry facility may have been prompted by the petition, Mayor Basran has made it perfectly clear that he was not in any way advocating for the safety of children when he had his "consultation with Minister Selena Robinson. It is likely that they were both simply trying to quell the outcry so that they could get on with it.

The following is an excerpt from a letter received from Mayor Basran by a resident of the Agassiz Road neighbourhood in response to their request that our neighbourhood be given the same consideration as the Rutland residents had apparently been given:

"We have had ongoing discussions with BC Housing regarding the proposed operating model at 130 McCurdy Road. Its proximity to a school as you mention had no bearing on the minister’s decision to modify the operating model. At the public hearing in September 2017, council agreed to a development on that property that was intended to be for those further along in their recovery. The changes made by BC Housing are more in line with the original applications.

"The city is the regulatory body that approves land use. In the council report related to the McCurdy Road property, staff outlined the reasons (from a land use perspective) whether to support or not support this application. The city does not discriminate against any citizen, resident, user, or any person, and private organizations such as women’s shelters, seniors care, and/or gender specific recovery facilities have the right to determine which population they wish to help, and that decision is independent of the city’s regulatory land use controls. It is the decision of BC Housing to determine who resides in its facilities and its operating model.

"It's my understanding that BC Housing will not be changing the operating model proposed for the supportive housing on Agassiz Road, and council will not be asking BC Housing to do so."

So the truth is that mayor and council have absolutely no intention of involving themselves in the decisions that BC Housing makes regarding the location of any wet facility they choose to build. BC Housing has free rein to build whatever it wants wherever it wants.

Council added "supportive housing" to almost every building zone in Kelowna back in 2017 without any definition of what that means or any distinction between types of housing or any restrictions or requirements that would have to be met by the developer.

Interestingly, in the same letter, the mayor included a link to the document "Council Priorities 2019-2022," which indicates under Community Safety that council's first priority is that "residents feel safe."

Unless, it seems, when BC Housing chooses to put a dangerous facility in any neighbourhood.

Be aware there are 500 people and counting on a waiting list already – three buildings in the works and potentially nine more wet facilities to be built in the next four or five years.

Susan Herwig

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