Councillors, at a meeting Monday, approved the creation of a task force on health and housing that will address issues around mental health, substance use disorders, poverty and affordable housing. (NEWS BULLETIN file photo)

City of Nanaimo creates new task force on homelessness

Task force on health and housing will lead implementation on previously adopted plans and strategies

City council wants to accelerate work on the City of Nanaimo’s affordable housing strategy and action plan to end homelessness.

Councillors, at a meeting Monday, approved the creation of a task force on health and housing. According to the terms of reference, the task force will work with the Nanaimo Homelessness Coalition and government and social agencies on aspects of the city’s previously adopted plans and strategies as they relate to issues around mental health, substance use disorders, poverty and affordable housing.

Councillors expressed concern about the scope of the task force, but Lisa Bhopalsingh, city manager of community and cultural planning, suggested the task force isn’t being asked to lead implementation of the entire affordable housing strategy.

“The idea of the task force is to really prioritize and look at immediate things to do … to really look strategically at all the overlapping issues and provide some direction,” Bhopalsingh said.

Coun. Erin Hemmens said she’s excited to be able to tackle aspects of the homelessness plan and affordable housing strategy.

“These are really big documents without real direction to our staff about what to prioritize,” she said.

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong wanted to know what would be different about this task force compared to past approaches.

“To me it’s just another study,” she said. “I’ve sat on at least six in the last three years and nothing ever happens.”

Jake Rudolph, city chief administrative officer, said he’s worked extensively on the homelessness file in recent years and thinks the task force can bring the right people together.

“What’s being proposed here is a facilitation process which the key participants, I think, are willing and anxious to participate in if they have a mechanism to do it,” he said.

City staff has received positive responses from many anticipated task force members, said Bhopalsingh. A staff report suggested the group would be comprised of city councillors and representatives from Snuneymuxw First Nation, Island Health, RCMP, B.C. Housing, provincial and federal bureaucrats and non-governmental organizations.

Mayor Leonard Krog said the provincial government has the “resources, staffing and jurisdiction” to provide solutions and the federal government has to recognize the “national housing and affordability crisis,” but in the meantime, the city needs to show leadership.

“People are dying, people’s lives are not improving in many cases and some of the solutions that have been implemented have been implemented in ways that create anger and fear and frustration in neighbourhoods…” Krog said. “I am confident that the worst-case scenario, we will demonstrate that we can’t get governments at various levels to do what their job is. That would be the worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario is that we will actually make the lives of our citizens better.”

Councillors Hemmens and Don Bonner will be city council’s representatives on the task force.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cooler day helps crews fighting fire on mountainside southwest of Nanaimo

Firefighters making progress, but it’s ‘slow-going,’ says B.C. Wildfire Service

Nanaimo RCMP say increase in cycling opens up potential for more bike thefts

Police advise cyclists register their bikes with 529 Garage

City of Nanaimo to look at turning NDSS field into mid-size stadium

Parks and rec will begin stakeholder engagement and begin work on a phased plan for improvements

Woman arrested near Nanaimo’s Westwood Lake after road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Pandemic isn’t a time for tax increases

City councillors are out of touch with the taxpayers, says letter writer

New ICBC data details Nanaimo intersections with the most crashes

Old Island Highway at Bowen Road and Norwell Drive saw the most crashes in 2019

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Most Read