City will explore other locations for controversial housing project in Chase River

By Dominic Abassi
February 5, 2018 - 10:59pm

The City's John Horn and mayor Bill McKay facing an incensed crowd at a recent open house in Chase River.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — After facing stiff opposition from Chase River residents, Nanaimo Council agreed to take a longer look at the location of a supportive housing project.

At Monday night's meeting, Council directed City staff to explore alternative locations for the provincially funded modular housing development proposed for 1425 Cranberry Ave. Council also called for more information on a wide range of issues.

Coun. Bill Yoachim's motion calling for further study followed delegations from concerned residents on Monday night and an emotionally charged open house on the proposal last week.

“I need more information from staff to clarify the ground rules on what type of clientele would be involved in this project,” coun. Ian Thorpe said, adding he too had concerns with the proposed location.

He said the process was rushed because of the provincial government and any delay could jeopardize the $7 million in funding.

“If that happens, so be it. We have to weigh that against the values of the neighbourhood.”

Only coun. Diane Brennan opposed Yoachim's motion, saying she did not support a delay in the project and would prefer to see the City develop plans to mitigate the impact on the area.

She said while she understood the concerns being raised, they're no different than those voiced by residents over similar projects in the past.

“We have a massive problem housing our residents. And make no mistake, these people are residents. They have the same rights as anybody else,” Brennan said. “Every individual has the same right to a home as everyone in this room does.”

Locals raised a myriad of concerns over the proposal, which would be beside Chase River Elementary and a Boys and Girls Club.

There is confusion over what type of people would live in the housing, concerns over discarded needles, drug use and safety for nearby children. Many residents also voiced anger over a lack of consultation, with many first learning of the development when it was announced by the province on Jan. 25.

The City's Dale Lindsay said they focused on the Chase River location because the City's policy is to disperse supportive housing throughout town and projects were already built in north, central and downtown Nanaimo.

“We limited our search to properties the City owns which are of sufficient size...There are not many,” Lindsay said, adding the province wants to see the project up-and-running by the fall.

Lindsay hoped to have answers to a variety of questions in time for next week's Council meeting.

 

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On Twitter: @domabassi

Longtime B.C. Mountie spends last shift on duty in Nanaimo with her son