To the Editor,
Re: Supportive housing important, Letters, Oct. 22.
We support the right of people in need in Nanaimo to have suitable housing. But we cannot support council’s decision to build low-barrier housing on Uplands Drive because it ignores the rights and wishes of the local community of which Nanaimo Seniors Village is an important part.
A strong majority of nearby residents oppose the development. They were not consulted before it was approved and their views have been sacrificed in the rush to push the project through.
This type of action is not what we expect from councillors elected to serve the interests of all Nanaimo residents.
Readers will be aware of the many objections to the development, so I want to focus on how it will negatively impact the residents of NSV, many of whom are frail and vulnerable seniors.
It’s worth noting that NSV, with 360 residents and a staff of 250, is the largest seniors’ housing residence on Vancouver Island, which makes council’s decision to locate the low-barrier housing development right next door even more perplexing.
No one can tell us exactly who our new neighbours might be, what addictions or mental afflictions they may have and how they will be supervised and supported – if at all.
Has there been an assessment of the potential risk to the community? If so, what did it show?
Our residents and staff need to know because right now many of them and their families are concerned.
We developed NSV on Uplands Drive specifically because it was a safe, peaceful neighbourhood where our residents could go for walks on their own and feel secure. Will that still be the case when the low barrier residents move in?
We don’t know and neither do our residents, which is why some of them are considering moving out – and if they are not replaced, it could mean a loss of jobs at NSV.
Is that what council envisaged?
We are also concerned because NSV carries a significant stock of medication needed by our residents. Does that mean we now face the possibility of break-ins by addicts who live next door? Did council even consider that?
This is not about NIMBY-sim. NSV is neither elitist nor exclusive. In fact, 130 of the suites in our facility are for residents who receive financial support from the province to pay for their homes.
This is about the realities of community building and being sensitive to the concerns of local residents, neither of which council seems to have considered in this case.