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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Neighbours ‘aghast’ at Nanaimo housing announcement

Newcastle Community Association says crime and social disorder has ‘erupted’ in neighbourhood
The Newcastle Community Association is expressing frustration with a recently announced arrangement for continued operation of temporary supportive housing at 250 Terminal Ave. (News Bulletin photo)

To the editor,

Re: City and province partner on more social housing, Jan. 31.

These are tenuous times that we live in. The number of people without adequate shelter is appalling. The rise in mental health and addiction challenges is unspeakable. The residents of Newcastle have been full partners in supporting services that enable the most vulnerable among us to regaining their lives. In doing so we do not want to continuously be held hostage to government plans that change on a dime and empty promises that affect the ability of our neighbourhood to be resilient and positive about the future.

The temporary supportive housing at 250 Terminal Ave. was to be a “short-term solution to meet an urgent need until permanent supportive housing is developed at this site.” At the outset, B.C. Housing gave us their assurance that the development at 250 Terminal would result in minimal disruption for the neighbourhood.

Our neighbourhood has not been the same since. Crime and social disorder erupted in the area around 250 Terminal. The bank of the Millstone River across Terminal became an armed camp for drug dealers actively supplying the residents of 250 Terminal. We have lost important neighbourhood businesses which may never come back. The culmination of all this was the shooting of a local businessman while he was trying to retrieve stolen property.

The neighbourhood thought we had a bit of a respite as B.C. Housing officially submitted a re-zoning application to allow for permanent supportive housing on the site in early 2023. Now we find out that the City of Nanaimo and B.C. Housing have signed an agreement to continue with the temporary housing at 250 Terminal for another three years. We are aghast that, as usual, the neighbourhood is the last to know. Not being consulted probably angers our residents more than facing another three years of trailers and nine-foot fencing and continuous neighbourhood decline. Going forward, it will take a tremendous effort in community engagement on the part of B.C. Housing and Nanaimo city council before we can begin to believe anything promised.

Newcastle Community Association executive

READ ALSO: Nanaimo neighbourhoods deal with new supportive housing plans

To the editor,

In 2018, the NDP provincial government announced that a temporary supportive housing facility would be set up at 250 Terminal Ave. Residents of the City of Nanaimo were assured by B.C. Housing and the city that the facility was temporary and would be replaced by a permanent facility. Five years and four months have now elapsed since that announcement was made and the permanent facility which was promised has not been realized.

Last week, the current B.C. Minister of Housing, Ravi Kahlon, and Mayor Leonard Krog made a further announcement that although 50 temporary housing units would be built at Chase River, the construction of a permanent facility at 250 Terminal will be delayed. Despite the failure to follow through on the commitment to build a permanent facility at 250 Terminal, the announcement was characterized by the politicians as a great achievement. The mayor and the minister claimed that as a result of the announcement, a total of 100 additional beds of supportive housing would become available. Although this is the case, the number of new beds being created is only the 50 that will be constructed at Chase River as the other 50 beds announced are those that already exist at Newcastle Place.

In 2020 the city entered into an agreement in which the province pledged to construct 315 units of supportive and affordable housing. To date only 102 units have been built.

The NDP government, our MLA and our city have failed dismally in providing adequate housing for the homeless living on the streets of Nanaimo. The promises made have not been kept. Their promises cannot and should not be relied upon.

Peter Giovando, 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 Media or the Nanaimo News Bulletin.

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