Public forum fails to ease Kelowna residents’ frustration over supportive housing

BC Housing’s information session about its new ‘wet’ facility leaves neighbours with more questions

Tensions remain high in Rutland after more than 500 neighbours in opposition of a 49-unit supportive housing development planned for McCurdy Road attended an information session by BC Housing and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

“What we’re here to do is build community,” BC Housing regional director Ann Howard said.

“We want to work with the community to make improvements for everyone and work together.”

But many residents said they left the meeting held at Rutland Centennial Hall on Wednesday night feeling frustrated and disappointed.

They were expecting more of a question-and-answer session but instead were greeted with a heavy security presence and poster boards outlining the project.

Representatives from BC Housing, Interior Health, Journey Home and CMHA were on hand inside to answer questions residents had about the project.

But outside the hall, a petition was passed around and a man who wished not to identify himself unfurled a banner with a web address on it.

In response to a June 17 comment from Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran saying “the time to complain is over,” a group has formed a website startcomplaining.ca to organize rallies and demand the project be relocated.

READ MORE: Petition started in protest of Kelowna’s McCurdy Road supportive housing

READ MORE: McCurdy project in Rutland gets go-ahead from Kelowna councillors

Many Rutland residents have expressed opposition to the housing project location due to its proximity to the schools and other family facilities and that drugs and alcohol could be consumed on site.

Protesters said they worry crime, theft and visible drug use will become a bigger problem in their community.

“It’s not in our best interest or their best interest for it to be a chaotic environment,” CMHA Kelowna and District executive director Shelagh Turner said.

“We’ve got this. We know how to support people and as a community, we will work together to make sure that people inside the housing feel safe and supported and the people outside the housing feel safe and supported.”

Similar projects in the area, such as Heath House, have experienced ongoing issues that have residents saying they doubt the McCurdy housing will be any different.

READ MORE: Rutland rallies against McCurdy house

But Central Okanagan Journey Home Society executive director Gaelene Askeland said the issues associated with homelessness are often remedied when these individuals are housed.

Future residents of the McCurdy residence will have to sign a 14-page agreement explaining behavioural expectations and CMHA, which will oversee the day-to-day operations, will evict tenants who fail to follow the terms of agreement, Turner said.

“We have people that are going to need (supportive housing) for six months, or a year or two and then they’re going to want to move out on their own to a place that isn’t as constrictive—where they don’t have a 14-page agreement,” Askeland said.

READ MORE: Ex-homeless Rutland man says supportive housing too close to schools

Howard said the McCurdy Road house is not intended for those suffering from addiction exclusively.

She explained a variety of people in need will call 130 McCurdy Road home, including people with medical, physical and mental limitations, individuals with affordability issues and addictions issues.

“I think the goal of supportive housing is really to start once we have housing then it’s the start to wellness,” Howard said.


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Showers to start weekend, sun returning soon

Environment Canada forecasts rain on Saturday and the heat returning next week

UPDATE: Penticton resident’s dog found safe

Nicholas Bozak thanks the public for finding his 17 month old mastiff chow

Survivorship Dragon Boat Team wins in Vernon

Team takes top spot in A division at festival

RDOS contributes funds to arts centre workshop

South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society wants input into proposed facility

Youth Wellness Gathering aims to empower, educate South Okanagan youth

The event is hosted by a non-profit located on the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) reserve July 22 & 23

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Okanagan school district monitoring McCurdy supportive housing plan debate

Top priority for board of education is to maintain safety integrity of local schools

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Okanagan woman to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for homeless youth

Victoria Schermel’s climb will raise funds for youth homelessness initiative, The Upstream Project.

Kelowna car thief’s sentencing delayed

Stanley Nickason pled guilty car theft charges in B.C. Supreme Court

Most Read