The City of Nanaimo is formally asking the B.C. government for a complex care housing facility.
City council, at a meeting Monday, Feb. 7, voted in favour of Coun. Don Bonner’s motion to ask for complex care housing for people experiencing homelessness who need a level of care beyond what supportive housing provides.
Council’s request is in response to the province’s Jan. 20 announcement that it will open complex care housing facilities in Vancouver, Surrey and Abbotsford. The motion piggybacks a regional district decision last month to write to Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo MLA and minister of mental health and addictions, to ask that her ministry work with the B.C. Attorney General and the minister responsible for housing “to establish health facilities within the Regional District of Nanaimo to provide adequate levels of treatment, including recovery, detox and after-care, as well as complex care housing for our citizens who urgently need more intensive care than supportive housing.”
The letter went on to say an entire continuum of services, including specialized medical support, is needed to address the crisis of people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness.
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog suggested that the letter be directed to B.C. Premier John Horgan and a number of other ministers.
Bonner said he thinks it’s important that the council show its support for a message the mayor has repeatedly expressed to the province.
“I think we’re now getting to a point now in our city where we need to take a more firmer stand and request that the housing and the supportive housing and complex care, that we desperately need in this town, be addressed,” Bonner said.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong voiced concerns about the model for complex housing proposed by the province.
“I agree with a lot of it, but I do have concerns about the model that they’ve proposed because it’s not a secure facility, so that’s just going to mean these people are going to be out on our streets even more,” Armstrong said. “So, I’m very, very much concerned, as are the police and mental health workers.”
Krog said he hoped the letter would carry some weight. He mentioned that the B.C. Urban Mayors Caucus, which represents 55 per cent of B.C.’s population, has been “lobbying long and hard on this issue” and issued a statement last month expressing the need for complex care facilities across the province.
“The reality is this is what is on people’s minds and on their lips and is of greatest concern…” Krog said. “We are all in agreement that the lives of those on our streets are not lives that should be lived by any citizen living in a modern 21st-century democracy … I’m sincerely hopeful the province is listening.”
The motion passed unanimously.