Who will support seniors?

Who will stand and support Kelowna’s seniors? Who will speak out on their behalf? Who will protect their property values? Their safety? Their independence?

Evidently, none of the stakeholders of the proposed supportive housing development on Agassiz Road.

At a recent open house, there was an array of individuals from B.C. Housing, the John Howard Society, the Journey Home Task Force, City of Kelowna, and others. They were arranged around a well-appointed conference room at the Ramada Inn with large glossy display boards showing artists renderings of a beautiful building with neatly kept grounds, all of them ready to discuss the pros of this much-needed project.

Armed with what seemed like scripted answers to our questions, they were all more than willing to educate us on how our misgivings were wrong and why we need to trust them. Most of the time our tough questions were not answered directly or their vocabulary was changed to an institutional language that the lay person wouldn’t understand, such as low barrier or harm reduction rather then a wet facility or allowed drug use.

I have to say that they all knew their stuff inside and out, but it suddenly occurred to me, with the exception of a few true volunteers, they were all being paid to do this. Most of them were salaried employees of the stakeholders that they represented, paid to say what they were saying. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are some, if not most, who have a genuine passion for what they do. At the end of the day, they are there to do what they can to house the homeless.

They call us NIMBYs, judgmental, non-empathetic, fear mongers, and a disappointing neighbourhood. We are told what is right and what is wrong. We are told to trust the experts because they know better. We are told that local realtors are incorrect and that our property values will not be reduced. We are told the fear and anxiety being felt by our seniors is ridiculous and unfounded.

Perhaps if they spent a fraction of their time looking at it from the residents' perspective rather than through their rose-coloured glasses, they would gain some insight on how 600-plus seniors will be negatively impacted by this project.

Will our mayor and city council support our seniors?

Rob Yanchuk, Kelowna

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