To the editor,
How not to manage a homeless problem – the Nanaimo experience:
Wait (do nothing?) until at least 300 individuals have accumulated. Most will be drug addicted and some will also suffer from mental illness. Some will be anarchists. Many will be from other parts of the province and country. Most will lack even basic social skills.
Continue waiting while: nearby businesses experience an increase in criminal activity, with some forced to close due to overwhelming theft; people defecate and urinate on sidewalks and store fronts despite portable toilets being brought in; hundreds of used syringes are discarded despite clean needle exchanges being brought in; used condoms appear on sidewalks, store fronts and alleys.
Spend $2 million taxpayer dollars to acquire land that is not on the list of city-recommended properties for supportive housing and does not comply with the official community plan; don’t worry that the land is not zoned for this use; ensure the land acquired is in an established, unsuspecting, quiet, middle-class neighbourhood consisting mainly of heritage-style homes and apartment blocks.
Ignore frivolous city bylaws such as: permitted zoning uses; density and parking limits; building permits. If you’re going to ignore frivolous city bylaws, why not lease or acquire land in rural or industrial/warehouse type areas? There is lots of this type of land available. It would provide the needed housing while also providing a buffer thereby giving the homeless individuals time and space to transition to the general community while not exposing the middle-class target neighbourhood to the rampant anti-social behaviour.
Advise neighbours that B.C. Housing and government officials don’t think their property value will be affected. This should avoid any claims of compensation however it is completely contrary to the opinions of professional property appraisers who have advised neighbouring property owners they’ve just taken a massive loss.
Do not admit you’ve solved homeless crisis by throwing another neighbourhood ‘under the bus.’
Nobody wants to see people who have found themselves in difficult circumstances suffering outdoors in the cold and rain. But it is imperative that the help we give these people is done with careful thought and done in a manner that does not devastate another neighbourhood. So do not be fooled by government and social housing advocates who claim ‘wet’ or no-barrier supportive housing plunked into the middle of an unsuspecting, middle-class neighbourhood will have no impact. You do not want this next door. Make sure your doors and windows are locked at all times. Be prepared for trespassers in your yard (especially at night) and it would be a good idea to acquire a sharps container for collecting the used syringes. Try selling your house right next door to this facility (good luck with that).
Jeff Moore, Nanaimo
The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.