Two temporary supportive housing sites will not be deemed as nuisance properties.
Nanaimo councillors voted Monday night against a motion calling on staff to create a report on the activities at 250 Terminal Ave and 2020 Labieux Rd., and whether the locations could be designated as nuisance properties under the city’s abatement and cost recovery bylaw. The motion was brought forward by Coun. Sheryl Armstrong as a notice of motion during the previous council meeting.
Both properties are home to temporary supportive housing complexes which were installed by the province in an effort to move people from Discontent City off the street and into shelter. A nuisance designation typically makes property owners responsible for costs associated with bylaw and police enforcement.
Prior to the discussion, Armstrong said staff had incorrectly written the motion in the agenda. She said she wanted a report that would determine whether the two properties “conformed” with the nuisance abatement and cost recovery bylaw.
“[The agenda] says deeming. That is not my intent,” Armstrong said. “My intent is to receive a report from staff, including reports from police, neighbourhoods, residents themselves so that we can make an informed decision on what is occurring.”
The rewording by Armstrong led to confusion among councillors, the majority of whom were against a nuisance designation. Councillors, however, were generally supportive of receiving a report and also empathized with concerns of residents.
Coun. Don Bonner said passing a motion that had language around nuisance properties would send the wrong message to the “very people in our province who are willing and able to spend the money on affordable housing” in Nanaimo.
“Nanaimo has a history of not co-operating with provincial government and as a result we are in the position we are in now,” Bonner said. “So, I think we need to send a message to the province that we are willing to co-operate.”
However, Coun. Jim Turley disagreed.
“I think it is sending the message that the City of Nanaimo is concerned about the situation, wants to improve it and I am sure the people providing the services would consider that good information,” he said.
Coun. Ben Geselbracht said he couldn’t support a motion that could create an adversarial situation with the service providers and stressed the need for long-term solutions.
“We got to keep in mind that these sites are temporary. They are temporary sites because having tent city was even worse and we need to progress to a situation where we can at least mitigate the impacts of addictions and crime,” he said.
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Coun. Sheryl Armstrong is now explaining her motion, says she didn’t want to designate 250 Terminal Ave as a nuisance property. Here’s a video of her clarifying her motion. pic.twitter.com/GuJxDrQgL8
— Nicholas M Pescod (@npescod) January 22, 2019
Nanaimo mayor Leonard Krog said levying fines on either property would be ineffective. He said passing the motion wouldn’t provide the solutions needed to address the issues around the property, homelessness and crime in the community.
“It would be, to me, a political out that may be of comfort to those who think there is a solution in declaring these properties a nuisance property when in fact, based on what I’ve heard … it would not achieve that effect at all,” Krog said.
Jake Rudolph, the city’s chief administrative officer, told councillors that an in-depth report on the supportive housing sites will come to council later in the year, adding that staff, including himself, are having regular meetings with Island Crisis Care Society and B.C. Housing.
Councillors ultimately voted 7-2 against the motion, with Turley and Armstrong voting in favour.
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