A supportive housing complex planned in the Chase River area isn’t a sure thing.
Nanaimo city council, at its meeting Monday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, passed a motion to look at alternative sites for the project.
A contingent from the Chase River community made presentations arguing against the 44-unit supportive housing complex in their neighbourhood.
The modular housing facility, a partnership between the city, provincial government and operator Pacifica Housing, is intended to provide homes and supportive services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Resident John Schlitz said supportive housing at the planned Cranberry Road location will change the south end, and not for the better.
“I’m not saying these people [don’t] need help, but the people that make Nanaimo great, they need a little bit of respect, too,” he said.
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Coun. Bill Yoachim brought forward the motion to look at alternative locations for the supportive housing, and Coun. Ian Thorpe spoke in support of the motion.
“What alternatives the city has as far as property, I don’t know, and I think our options are limited and I think unless there is a good option and we can move fairly quickly, we might lose this provincial opportunity for housing and if that happens, so be it,” Thorpe said. “I think we have to weigh that against the values of the neighbourhood.”
Coun. Diane Brennan was the only member of council to vote against the motion. She said the city has had a policy that every neighbourhood needs to shoulder a share of social housing.
“We have big problems downtown and we need to be able to disperse people and find homes for them to live in and from my point of view, every individual has the same right to a home as everyone in this room does,” she said.
Brennan said she would be in favour of measures to mitigate the community’s concerns regarding the project.
City director of community development Dale Lindsay said the province hadn’t set firm project timelines, but said it’s his understanding that there’s a desire to move ahead quickly and have tenants moving in this fall.
Mayor Bill McKay told the Chase River community members that there will be more opportunity for public engagement.
“Yes, there are timelines with the provincial government on this type of project, but we have to, as a community, figure this out together,” he said.