Many questions surrounding supportive housing projects
B.C. Housing has paid the Municipality of North Cowichan, $976,185 for the property purchase at 2983 Drinkwater Rd., and $663,730 for their property purchase at 260 White Rd. from the City of Duncan, with construction beginning in the fall of 2020. [Editor’s note: the properties in question were purchased from private owners, not the municipalities.] Comments were made being in favour of the project by North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furnesteau, City of Duncan Mayor, Michele Staples, and Cowichan Band Chief William Seymour. Fine and dandy, but none of them have answers to the many questions in regards to this project.
Those questions are: does North Cowichan and the City of Duncan have the resources to handle the needs of the residents, can people from outside the region live here, why these locations, wouldn’t a more remote location be better, why are you bringing more crime and homeless individuals into our neighbourhoods, will the value of my home decrease, how will someone apply to live here and how will they be chosen, do the eligibility requirements consider criminal records, how long can a person live here once they move in, will people live there rent free, will clients be allowed to have overnight guests, will residents be drug users, will you be supplying harm reduction supplies to the residents, will there be a safe injection site, are pets allowed, is smoking allowed, how many staff will be employed and what will their duties be, will Narcan (Naloxone) kits and training be provided to staff, will staff have mental health and addiction training, what safety and security features will be in place, do you have a plan to keep people from loitering, will residents be required to seek work, is there a curfew for residents, are parties allowed, will visitors be allowed, what expectations are made for residents, what consequences are there for non compliance, who will clean up the garbage around the site, how will violence and aggression be dealt with, what happens if funding is no longer available from government after the project is complete?
In the movie, Field of Dreams, there was a phrase used, “If you build it, they [sic] will come”. This means that B.C. Housing should be asking themselves, the question, who are we building this product for and do we have information to back up our theory.
As the taxpayers in North Cowichan and Duncan did not have a say in the location of these two projects, then the above mentioned people can surely answer all of the above questions, which must be answered before the shovels are in the ground to proceed with construction.