2011 Election Campaign: Answers to Question #1

We asked this question, below, because as a diverse and inclusive neighbourhood,  we have often struggled with an overconcentration of low barrier housing.  Perhaps our most well-known facility is the Balmoral (18 residents) run by CMHC.  But we also have the New Hope Centre on our northern boundary (houses about 40 residents, overnite and short-term).  Beyond that are the non-supported operations where the monitoring can often be more by the RCMP than any staff members: former hotels and motels throughout our neighbourhood, including the Value Lodge and the Newport Hotel include another 60+ people.  Then there are the slum landlords renting out substandard housing.

Given the fact that we potentially have well over 100, perhaps closer to 200 hard-to-house folks in our neighbourhood, we’re naturally curious about how other neighbourhoods respond to supporting those who need help.  So we posed the following question to candidates:


1.  Should services and resources to the disadvantaged be spread throughout the city or concentrated in one part of the city?  What is your position regarding the Uplands Supportive Housing Project?

Candidates for Mayor

Dan Didio

did not reply to the survey

Roger McKinnon

did not reply to the survey

Jim Routledge

Yes, spread out – there are good reasons why this benefits i) the tenants, ii) neighbourhoods & community.

i) Tenants: Various providers specialize in different segments of the homeless population.  A variety of geographic locations facilitate suitable options for the entire homeless population.

ii) Neighbourhoods:  Meeting social responsibilities comes with rewards on a neighbourhood & community level -emotional, spiritual & financial – benefits accrue to those that step up, get involved and find solutions.  The mechanisms that are set up, the processes including neighbourhood groups & connections also facilitate other sports, cultural and educational efforts – as well as funding for other initiatives becomes easier through these organizations and relationships.

I am in favour of exactly what the city proposes on its website.  I started the petition in favour of it.


John Ruttan

Services and resources to the disadvantaged must be spread equally throughout our community. Those in need of these essential services clearly come from all areas of our City and to suggest otherwise is simply incorrect. It follows that the logical sites for the provision of social housing are to be found throughout our City and not in a single geographic area. That is the strategy that Mayor and Council have followed.

I am in favour of the establishment of supportive housing on the Uplands Road site.

Candidates for Council

George Anderson

I believe services and resources for the disadvantaged should be spread throughout the entire city. Concentration in one area leads to many issues, and puts a burden on one area of the community. It is our responsibility to make sure we work together to help people who are not able to help themselves, it has to be a shared responsibility.

In regards to the supportive housing on Uplands, our city council did not provide enough communication or information to residents in the community and there should have been a dialogue with the residents, but I believe we cannot leave our homeless on the streets.

Bill Bestwick

I am completely in favor of a provision of services made available to the disadvantaged members of our City. Currently there are numerous offerings of services from the Public and Private sector spread throughout the City Centre and reaching into many neighborhoods.  The Provincial Government contributes subsidies to approximately 1700 families in the City of Nanaimo approaching nearly 7 plus million dollars annually.

The services and resources necessary for the disadvantaged must be made to be convenient, accessible and need specific to the clientele.  That said, resources must be readily available in locations which is critical to the success of the operation and client.  The most responsible thing Government can do is provide the necessary services through examination and process of site selection, size of operation and ease of access to everyday necessities.  Providing the sites are optimum for the intended use and researched appropriately, I would be in favor of dispersal beyond a concentrated area.

The intended use must be well researched, examined and consulted with the area most impacted. The client services must be conveniently accessible.  The size of the operation must be modest to suit the property and neighborhood, and in the best interest of the clients success.  The Tillicum Tse Lelum model of Medium to High Barrier for Elders (Seniors) and youth at risk in an 18 unit complex is most desirous or a Fairway Woods model for Adults of 55 plus for this location.

Arlene Blundell

After doing a fair bit of research from Nanaimo to as far away as Detroit Michigan where I connected by email with Dr. Glaster, Prof. of Urban Affairs, I found  that distribution throughout the city was considered the better way for supportive housing.  Otherwise, a concentrated area can be ignored and isolated and more likely to become problematic and turn into a ghetto.  Those needing support are more likely to feel safer and take more pride in their situation if surrounded by hopefully friendly and helpful neighbours.   Also of critical importance though was the size of the project  in relation to  supportive staff available.  The smaller the ratio of staff to tenants the more liklihood of success.  I support the project going into the Uplands sight – ONLY if there is adequate supportive staff for 24/7 care and treatment.

Diane Brennan

Yes, people who are marginalized in society need to be welcome in all areas of Nanaimo. Diverse neighbourhoods are a sign of a healthy city.

I fully support the Uplands Housing Project.

Brunie Brunie

I love the restoration and pride I see in the South end.  You are without doubt the most interesting up and coming neighborhood in the city.  I recognize your concerns as a lot falls on your shoulders being the closest to where the food and other resources for the poor are situated.   Personally I feel these resources would be better spread throughout the city.  It is important that all citizens  partake in helping our disadvantaged.  It is everyones responsibility.

Concerning the Uplands supportive housing, too many in one place is not the best answer.  I am happy that these people are receiving help, however, it is not fair to them to be foisted into a neighborhood that is in such fear of them.  Integrating them into smaller houses throughout the city would be a happier answer for all concerned.

Chris Cathers

did not reply to the survey

Brian Fillmore

did not reply to the survey

Gord Fuller

Poverty and homelessness are not limited to any one area and the concentrating of services contributes to the ghettoization of areas  where services are concentrated. For over a decade I have been advocating for the decentralization of services which actually became a City Policy a few years ago.

Like services Supportive Housing needs to be spread out through the community. I have been the strongest and most outspoken person working to accomplish this. Key to this, but lacking to an extent in the recent Uplands and Dufferin debates, is early communication with the neighbourhoods. Educating through early communication could have gone a long way to making the neighbourhoods accepting of the projects.

Ted Greves

The services and resources often follow the needs of the disadvantaged and for practical purposes tend to be centralized. But ghettoizing these services and accommodations can lead to some negative impact on the community. I believe services should be spread out but the issue of availability to those in need is probably an issue.

I support the Uplands Supportive Housing Project. There are no perfect solutions. The site addresses the idea of fairness in that no one particular area of the City has all or most of the Supportive Housing, inclusiveness, site infrastructure readiness, access to transit and acceptable zoning. The area is an area of multi- family units and Community Services so it is a suitable location.

Diana Johnstone

Absolutely! We share Nanaimo with many diverse people, many who are struggling with poverty or physical/mental illnesses. We must share our city space with EVERYONE and they should be welcome in ANY neighbourhood.  The South End Community Association is to be congratulated for welcoming the opportunity to be a complete and caring neighbourhood. You understand the value of addressing homelessness and have said, “Yes in my Backyard.”

I wholeheartedly support the Uplands Supportive Housing Project.  Perhaps Council should have communicated this project better to the Uplands Neighbourhood, however, when transferring homes from Boundary and Dufferin we were unable to announce the location earlier. The site is chosen and we as a council must now work with the neighbourhood to dispel some of their fears. Your President, Doug, has been very helpful in this regard.

Without good quality housing, many people cycle between jails, hospital, shelters and streets, costing governments far more than the price of actually providing supportive housing. Over the years, there have been studies done that show the positive impact Social Housing Projects has on neighbourhoods. We can and will make this project work with the help of the social agencies, RCMP, BC Housing, VIEA and YIMB’YS. (Yes in my backyard)

Jim Kipp

Since the 1990’s I have been involved in social, health and economic issues I support the concept and implementation of our homeless strategies and initiatives like “streets to homes” and www.stophomelessness.ca. The cost for not addressing the issue of homelessness with dignity and compassion is proven to be way higher, ie “million dollar murry”.  I advocate for an inclusive community that shares our social responsibilities.

Gary Korpan

As the Mayor who spent years pleading for government support to solve this terrible problem you can be assured I will support fulfilling the Homelessness Agreement I signed on behalf of Nanaimo in 2008 (including commitments to public consultation). It is shocking how it has been so delayed in implementation.

Homelessness Position

Canadians, all Canadians, deserve safe, secure shelter. It is essential for quality living and fulfilling a productive life.  Some of our fellow citizens have become homeless for many reasons, including drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, and poverty. Intense public initiatives have led to diverse efforts to solve, or reduce homelessness.

Much effort by our citizens, community partners, and the current and past City Councils, on behalf of all Nanaimo, has been made to partner with government, non-profits, and private parties to improve services and resources to combat homelessness.

As a four-year member of the Premier’s Task Force on Homelessness, I support using the medically appropriate methods and public health initiatives the BC government determines effective in fighting homelessness.

I am grateful for, and support, the years of research, countless volunteer hours, and multiple participants who worked to produce Nanaimo’s Homelessness Strategy and Plan.

While homelessness may only be visible in some locations, it damages our whole community. We have a responsibility to work co-operatively to fix it as a community.

Once the Uplands site contract tender, set by BC, is awarded in early November, and all project details are available, I support ongoing full disclosure for the proposed facilities, services, and resources at open public meetings, so everyone can hear the same thing at the same time, ask pertinent questions, and judge for themselves if adequate safety and security is provided. Not just for the housed homeless, but for their prospective neighbours as well. Nothing will change until there is trust and there can be no trust without full disclosure, or if questions go unanswered, or lies are circulated without challenge.

Failure to act on homelessness while we have the assistance offered by senior government will only make a bad situation worse. I am confident most Nanaimoites want to work together to resolve this now.

Rodger Lomas

Not necessarily; there are advantages to having services consolidated; for example: consolidation could provide access to a wider variety of services in a single location or area; and, yield fixed cost savings to service providers. Many challenges to access to services can be overcome with a comprehensive Transportation system that connects Nanaimo seamlessly from within and beyond to nearby larger centres for access to an even greater variety of services and resources depending upon the need.

The Uplands Supportive Housing Project is a complex argument that is part of a greater program to find solutions to homelessness. There is evidence to suggest that the processes laid out in the MOU memorandum of Understanding between the city of Nanaimo and BC Housing have not been followed correctly; furthermore, the document titled Nanaimo’s response to Homelessness action plan which also stipulates actions and processes were not followed correctly. Additionally, site selection of Uplands was not part of the original MOU.  It has become a selected site only following a failure to find community acceptance with a previous site that was part of the MOU.

It is argued that this change of location was done without Council adherence to protocols of both of these documents. Subsequent to this location selection; a community push back has occurred citing that the location is inappropriate due to its proximity to a seniors centre, Schools and vulnerable neighbourhood and businesses; I am compelled to agree. It

is seen as inappropriate given the size of the project (40 units), the target tenant population to be housed and the predictable negative consequences of having a Hybrid-wet-house facility in this location; or, any location. It is important to note that: The opponents of this site selection and the intended hybrid-wet-house facility are not opponents to Supportive housing. To further exacerbate the issue the inter-changed use of terminology such as “low-barrier” also know as “wet-house” and “Supportive housing” (non-wet house) in the same context has led to a great deal of confusion. My conclusion is that this particular project is flawed from many angles both governmental and academic.

The governmental failures include: An absence of Due-diligence and not following process protocols with regard to community consultation of the Uplands project and rezoning of land. The Academic flaws range from Clinical and Consumer viewpoints. The Clinical view is that abstinence is a pre-condition of tenancy and access to programs; whereas the Consumer view is of a Housing-First model then following a carefully laid out plan of recovery which includes education, prevention, treatment and support matched to the severity of the addiction or mental illness (single or dual diagnosis). Indeed, there is little provision in either view of homeless persons or families that do not fit into an illness category.

Further to this complexity is that the centre is to be operated by a non-profit society that will function at arm’s-length from the City of Nanaimo and would largely determine the target tenancy – this is a step which removes civic control over the tenancy status from the City. This is a negative aspect in which the City of Vancouver is currently struggling. Even the global project plan laid out by the BC Government has its critics; and, from an unlikely source; Dr. Galster – expert in the field and housing proponent accuses the BC Government of misinterpreting his data and warns that this plan of large multi-unit complexes with little supervision or treatment/support plans in place for community re-integration puts tenants in danger of re-victimization and the surrounding community for criminal nuisance.

After weighing the facts of this project’s flaws from the many perspectives; it is apparent that it requires a serious re-think. Therefore, my position is such that: because of the human destructive nature of wet-house housing (a.k.a Hospice) I cannot support this concept anywhere; ever. I truly believe we are our Brother’s Keeper – we can do better – the David Moirs of the world deserve better.

With a Housing-First and Supportive Housing model that follows the recommendations of Drs. Tsemberis and Galster and associated subject matter experts in this field.  Recommendations that include fewer units in any one location (12 or less) and a community scattered approach. This is a housing model that I support; and, it has proven to have remarkable successes. Adopting this program strategy; and, attacking causal factors in homelessness will demonstrate Leadership in homelessness solutions and will yield long-term benefits for all of Nanaimo as well as showcase social innovation.

Zeni Maartman

Caring for those that need our support the most is the responsibility of the whole city.  As Chair of the Social Planning Advisory Committee, I know we have been working on homelessness in Nanaimo for almost a decade. After many years of workshops, the formation of the Nanaimo Working Group on Homelessness, an Action Plan was developed. The participants included VIU, BC Housing, RCMP, Safer Nanaimo Working Group, DNP (now known as DNBIA ) Neighbourhood Associations, representatives from local social service agencies, homeless individuals who shared their stories. You can see that we have had many conversations with citizens. We had open houses to present Nanaimo’s Response to Homelessness. The City has tried to be as open and transparent as it can, living within the restrictions of the Provincial protocol, as the Province is funding the building of these homes, and the support that will be provided, 24/7. Anyone can view this document on the City Website. It was determined from the beginning that it is healthy for a city to share for the care of all.

I support the Uplands Supportive Housing Project and will do my best to ease the fears and negative emotions surrounding this project. There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Jeet Manhas

During my two terms on City Council we had changed the zoning by-law to allow the Supportive Housing throughout the city. I personally don’t believe that the Supportive Housing be concentrated in one part of the city. My belief is that before we choose the sites where Supportive Housing is to be built we should have conversation and consultation with the residents and businesses of the neighbourhood.

At present I am not in favour of the Uplands location. I would have been in favour if neighbourhood and surrounding businesses had been fully consulted and open houses were held with transparency and decision not be made behind closed doors. My belief is that when people feel that they are a part of conversation they respond positively and we can build better relationships.

Bill McKay

Services should be provided where they are needed.  If we have population in the north, south, or central parts that need help, they should get the help they need in their neighbourhood.   I am fully behind the Supportive Housing Initiative.  It appears that we have chosen a model that comes with its own set of challenges, however.

I am not in favor of Bowen Road, Dufferin, or Uplands locations, UNTIL we determine if the operator chosen and the type of client is determined.  It appears that between the Homeless Action Committee, the City, and BC Housing took the lazy way out when choosing locations.  Instead of carefully choosing sites that are appropriate for the type of housing needed in the neighbourhood, they simply plunked money on to “available inventory” to quote John Horn.  I would encourage not putting the Bowen Road site investment on hold.  That simply puts the neighbourhood around that site in limbo for years.  Let’s take the Province’s money and find a proper location for that investment and get on with it!

Darcy Olsen

It is important for the success of every community to care for every member of Nanaimo.  All neighbourhoods have schools, seniors, and children; this is what makes up a community.  To fear a demographic based on a subjective criteria is shameful and it is obvious further education for those opposed is needed.   We live in Nanaimo not South or North Nanaimo and I believe the Housing First initiative should have placement throughout Nanaimo.  It’s time to move people up not out.

Christopher Ouellette-Croucher

did not reply to the survey

Fred Pattje

Of course, services and resources to the disadvantaged should be spread throughout the City. Mental health and substance issues, among others, know no borders in our municipality and it is only fair that the responsibility of dealing with these is shared equally by all.

I am in favour of both the Dufferin and Upland locations as sites where Nanaimo’s ambitious Housing First projects can come to fruition and, contrary to the beliefs of some, I do not believe that these facilities will be operating to the detriment of the neighbourhoods in which they are planned.

Peter Ramsay

could not be contacted

Trent Snikkers

I believe that support services should be spread throughout the City as homelessness and addiction are not isolated to any one particular neighbourhood.  I also believe that not concentrating services in one specific area (and thus avoiding the creation of a ghetto) is crucial to at-risk citizens’ re-integration.  By spreading the services throughout the community, we can also help teach our children that the underpriviledged in our society are not evil second-class citizens and that they deserve to have another chance and equal access.

Although I do support the concept of a supportive-housing facility and its proposed location, I do not believe that the community was properly involved and educated during the initial stages of the process and I believe this unfortunate approach has yet to be rectified.  I therefore believe Uplands residents do have the right to express their concerns now.  Until proper consultation occurs and the community has truly had their input heard and their concerns appropriately dealt regarding this project I would support that the Uplands supportive housing project not proceed at this time.

Rob Zver

I believe that services and resources should be spread throughout the city as this would make it easier for those providing the services to control the situation as they would be dealing with smaller numbers.

I feel the Uplands Supportive Housing Project may be too big.  I would be more supportive of smaller projects placed in more areas throughout the city rather than a few large ones.  We need to have the support of the communities when building these homes.

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