EDITORIAL: Project delay could be good

By delaying the development of the 36-unit project, council has provided a cooling-down period that hopefully will allow correct information and realities to prevail.

In a compromise, neither side emerges a true victor.

But after such an emotionally charged and often bitter debate over a proposed social housing facility at 1406 Bowen Rd., city council’s decision to take a step back from advancing further on the project is, for the most part, a good one.

By delaying the development of the 36-unit project, council has provided a cooling-down period that hopefully will allow correct information and realities to prevail.

Hospital-area residents won’t get what they asked for – to know with certainty the facility will never get a development permit. That has left some feeling like the issue has been shelved, only to surface again later.

But it will allow all parties to see how these low-barrier facilities work.

A similar project on Tenth Street will be in full operation soon and another on Wesley Street isn’t far behind. The success or failure of these social housing projects will trump any rhetoric that has been bandied about.

It’s important to note that residents of these areas didn’t have the same opportunity to share feedback, because rezoning wasn’t required. In this sense, hospital-area residents had an advantage and used it.

For the city, it will provide a better measure of just what the demand is for social housing like this in Nanaimo. In 2008, the province said 160 units were necessary, but perhaps it makes sense to hold off to gauge what’s truly needed.

Time will tell to see which side was right.

But this issue isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about taking the issue of homelessness by the horns and getting the city’s less fortunate, addicted and mentally ill into a safe environment with opportunities to live a productive life.

If we can do that, we all win.