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City of Nanaimo’s new homelessness-focused agency about to begin its work

Systems planning organization, with executive director in place, will launch April 1
The City of Nanaimo’s new systems planning organization, responsible for co-ordinating efforts to combat homelessness, will begin operations this spring. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

The City of Nanaimo’s new arm’s-length organization co-ordinating an approach to homelessness is about to start its work.

The city, in a press release this week, announced that the Nanaimo Systems Planning Organization Society will begin operations April 1. The SPO’s board of directors, chaired by former city councillor Don Bonner, was established last fall and John McCormick has now been hired as executive director.

“Our first order of business will be to build connections with local not-for-profits serving Nanaimo’s unhoused population and develop a strategic plan in collaboration with the community,” said Bonner in the press release. “We are excited to embark on this journey and look forward to making a positive impact in our community.”

The systems planning organization was one of the main recommendations of the health and housing action plan that was adopted by the previous city council in 2021. McCormick will be expected to engage with stakeholders already working with Nanaimo’s local unhoused population to create a strategic plan, “and work with the community to develop and direct an appropriate response,” the release noted.

McCormick is the former executive director of the Nanaimo-area John Howard Society and has been “deeply involved” in housing efforts locally for years, said the city.

Mayor Leonard Krog, in the release, said putting in place the SPO will provide leadership on the issue and will be a “big step” in a well-co-ordinated and informed approach to address homelessness and related issues.

The SPO’s operating budget is $480,000 per year through 2026.

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo creates agency to co-ordinate efforts to combat homelessness

READ ALSO: Nanaimo’s health and housing task force presents action plan to address homelessness

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