Mayor hopes for social housing peace

With operators chosen to run Nanaimo’s latest social housing units, mayor John Ruttan hopes neighbourhood fears can be put to rest.

With operators chosen to run Nanaimo’s latest social housing units, Mayor John Ruttan hopes neighbourhood fears can be put to rest.

Part of the B.C. government’s Housing First initiative, sites at 1621 Dufferin Cres. and 6025 Uplands Dr. were announced in September, causing an uproar from neighbours fearing an increase in crime and unhappy with the lack of consultation.

As part of the program, the city is required to provide land for the facilities.

Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society – in partnership with Columbian Centre Society and Haven Society will operate the Dufferin Crescent site, while Pacifica Housing, headquartered in Victoria, will run the Uplands Drive site.

Ruttan is pleased with the choice of operators and the track record of all of them.

“It bodes well for the future of the sites,” he said. “They operate a number of sites throughout Nanaimo and the thing is you never hear anything about them. No negative comments, no negative results … the record of these providers speaks for itself.”

Both sites will be low-barrier housing for single adults with no restrictions on drug or alcohol use in the units.

The first step for the operators is to meet with neighbours, providing information on the operation of the buildings and the prospective tenants.

RCMP and city bylaw officers will accompany the operators to answer questions and hopefully mitigating any legitimate concerns, said Ruttan.

“Maybe we didn’t present positive information, but we were challenged with not being able to say anything until the province released the names of the providers,” he said. “The low-barrier is a concern, but I’d like to think the tenants will respect the neighbours and those who might be causing trouble will be aware that there will be many eyes watching them.”

For more information on the housing providers, please go to www.pacificahousing.ca, www.nahs.ca, www.columbiancentresociety.com or www.havensociety.com.