A Nanaimo RCMP cruiser parked outside the Newcastle Place temporary supportive housing site at 250 Terminal Ave. this past Saturday afternoon. KARL YU/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo council concerned about Terminal Avenue supportive housing project

Residents point to a lack of safety and security in the neighbourhood

A temporary supportive housing project near downtown Nanaimo hasn’t turned out the way the city’s mayor had hoped it would.

During a council meeting on Monday night, Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said the supportive housing project at 250 Terminal Ave. hasn’t met his expectations and that “none of us” are happy with the outcome at the moment.

“I don’t think there is any question about that,” he said.

Krog’s comments came after neighbourhood resident Darrell Gyorfi requested that councillors implement a safety and security plan which would result in police officers taking a more “proactive” approach to dealing with crime in the Newcastle area.

“All the apartment buildings around are being victimized, car alarms are going off at 5 a.m. in the morning. People are scared to leave their houses,” he said shortly after pointing out that there were dozens of other nearby Terminal Avenue residents at the meeting.

Gyorfi’s comments, which lasted for more than 10 minutes, led members of council to speak openly about the situation at 250 Terminal Ave. A similar supportive housing site at 2020 Labieux Rd. was not discussed.

The temporary supportive housing site at 250 Terminal Ave. is operated by Island Crisis Care Society in partnership with B.C. Housing, who purchased the property in an effort to provide short-term housing to those who were living at Discontent City. However, concerns were raised after the site was purchased without any public consultation. A nearby resident has since launched a civil lawsuit against B.C. Housing and the society, claiming the temporary housing site violates the city’s zoning bylaws.

RELATED: B.C. government providing temporary housing units to Nanaimo’s homeless

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RELATED: Nanaimo woman takes legal action against temporary supportive housing

Krog told councillors he had been hopeful the temporary supportive housing sites would be a “positive step” for the community, but that it hasn’t gotten off to a good start.

“Clearly there have been significant issues and it is not fair that the citizens of any area in our community live in fear and concern,” he said.

Krog also said there are some individuals whose “behaviour is entirely criminal in nature” and should not be living at the Terminal Avenue site. He said supportive housing is not governed by the residential tenancy act and therefore people can be kicked out of the facility for violating their agreement with B.C. Housing, adding that removals aren’t happening as they should.

“That has not been happening in the manner that one would expect and we expect a great deal to happen in the next couple of weeks and if it doesn’t I can say to you that this council will do whatever it can to ensure that there is a far more effective response from B.C. Housing and the Island Crisis Care Society.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe said councillors have heard the concerns of residents around Terminal Avenue very seriously, explaining that councillors have been discussing the issue during in-camera meetings and are hoping the situation improves.

“Quite frankly some of the processes, checks and balances have not been put in place as quickly as they should have been and I am hopeful that will improve in the near future,” he said.

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said she understands the concerns of residents, explaining that the project was pushed through by the provincial government, bypassing city zoning rules. She also said she would make a motion to have staff designate 250 Terminal Ave. as a nuisance property, which would make Island Crisis Care Society and B.C. Housing responsible for costs associated with police visits to the site.

“That’s one of the tools I believe that we as a city council have to help the residents move forward,” she said; however, no motion was made Monday.

During the public participation period of the meeting, councillors heard additional comments about the situation from residents, including one man who said he can’t even go to Maffeo Sutton Park without a “crack head” trying to accost his daughter.

The Island Crisis Care Society did not immediately respond to a request for comment.







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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