City council plodded ahead Monday with the first two readings to rezone the property at 1406 Bowen Rd., scheduled to be used as supportive housing, despite resistance from representatives of the Quarterway School Parent Advisory Council.
Cathy Manson, speaking on behalf the advisory council, said parents remain unconvinced the proposed facility won’t have a negative effect on children at the school.
“One used condom lying on the ground, one needle … is one too many,” said Manson, adding that the children who attend the school are too young to understand what supportive housing is and how it might affect them. “I wish I could say I have no fear, that I could just walk away, but that’s not the case.”
Quarterway Elementary School, which offers French Immersion as well as First Nations studies, has about 375 children aged five to 14 and around 40 teachers and staff.
There are two supportive housing units proposed near the school. One would be at the back of the Chinese Cemetery off Townsite Road, the other just a few hundred metres from the school on Bowen Road.
An intensive process was undertaken by both the city and B.C. Housing to determine the proposed sites.
“Where else do you propose we put these facilities?” asked Coun. Merv Unger.
Plan Nanaimo Advisory Committee also agreed with the location, with the recommendation of a covenant that capped the number of units at 36 per facility.
Coun. Fred Pattje said he was surprised by the level of fear displayed by residents despite having gone through meetings that suggested the success of other similar sites in the province.
The supportive housing facilities would be home to people trying to recover from drug and alcohol addictions, as well as mental illness.
One group of concerned citizens started a petition with 1,137 names asking the city to select a different site.
“Simply having a location doesn’t make it the right site,” said Manson. “There are no guarantees that can say our school will be safe.”
The first two readings passed 7-1. A public hearing is scheduled for April 14 at 7 p.m. at the Shaw Auditorium prior to third reading and adoption of the rezoning bylaw.